THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
OLIVE PRATT RAYNER
^ \ J /i;X'-''-'
C. ARTHUR PEARSON LIMITED
HENRIETTA STREET W.C.
OLIVER WENDELL PRATT,
A wife's HOMAGE,
A SISTER' LOVE.
I. -Introduces a Latter-day Hkkoink ... g
II.— ThK SlRUOdLE FOR LiFE l8
III.— Environment Wins 29
IV.— The CHOic',i of a Patron 41
v.— Vive l'Anarchie ! 47
VI.— The Inner Brotherhood 60
VII.— A Mutinous Mutineer 68
VIII.— Called "Of Accidents" 83
IX.— I PLAY Carmen 95
X.— Sic me .servavit Apollo! 104
XL— A Sail on the Horizon 114
XII.— A Cavalier makes Advances 131
XIIL— Concerning Romeo 137
XIV.— "Now Barabbas was a Publisher" ... 145
XV.— Fresh Light on Romeo 155
XVI.— I try Literature 165
XVII.— A Drawn Battle 176
XVIIL— An Autumn Holiday 194
XIX.— "O Romeo, Romeo!" 203
XX.— " Wherefore art thou Romeo.'" ... 223
XXL— Envoy Plenipotentiary 242
XXI I.— I Cling to the Rkjging 253
NEW 3s. 6d. BOOKS.
(TO APPEAR SHORTLY.)
The Invisible Man.
By H. G. VVem.s.
By G. B. BuRGiK.
The Skipper's Wooing.
By W. W. Jacobs.
John of Strathbourne.
By R. D. Chetwooe.
THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
INTRODUCES A LATTER-DAY HEROINE.
I WAS twenty-twO; and without employ-
I would not say by this that I was without
occupation. In the world in which we live,
set with daisies and kingfishers and unde-
ciphered faces of men and women, I doubt
I could be at a loss for something to occupy
me. A swallow's back, as he turns in the
sunshine, is so full of meaning. If you dwell
in the country, you need but pin on a hat
and slip out into a meadow, and there, in
some bight of the hedgerow, you shall see
spring buds untwisting, sulphur butterflies
coquetting ; hear nightingales sing as they
sang to Keats, and streamlets make madrigal
as they wimpled for Marlowe. Nay, even
here in London, where life is rarer, how can
I cruise down the Strand without encounter-
10 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
ing Strange barks — mysterious argosies that
attract and intrigue mc ? That living stream
is so marvellous ! Whence come they, these
shadows, and whither do they go ? — ;- in-
numerable, silent, each wrapped in his own
thought, yet each real to himself as I to my
heart. To me, they are shooting stars,
phantoms that flash athwart the orbit of my
life one second, and then vanish. But to
themselves they are the centre of a world
— of the world ; and I am but one of the
meteors that dart across their horizon.
I cannot choose but wonder who each is,
and why he is here. For one after another I
invent a story. It may not be the true story,
but at least it amuses me. Every morning I
see them stream in from the Unknown, by the
early trains, and disperse like sparks that
twinkle on the thin soot of the chimney-back
— men with small black bags, bound for
mysterious offices. What happens in those
offices I have no idea : they may lend money,
or buy shares, or promote Christian know-
ledge. I only know I see them come in the
morning and flit again at night, sometimes the
same figures, recognisably identical. They
rush back, absorbed, to catch the train to the
Unknown, as they rushed up from it earlier.
INTRODUCES A LATTER-DAY HEROINE. II
So, day after day, the tide sets and ebbs; while
I stand on the shore of the vast sea of London
like a child that watches. And Commissioner
Lin guards me.
I have always been grateful to Mr. Samuel
Butler for his eccentric theory that a woman
wrote the Odyssey. I do not say that I
agree with him ; if I did, I am not aware that
any critic would attach the least importance
to my opinion. But it is a soothing theory
for us latter-day women. Without thinking
it true, I love to believe it. The Odyssey,
you will grant, is the epic of the imagination.
It is the epic of mystery. In the Iliad, which
is the epic of fact, everything is clear-cut, dis-
tinct, commonplace. I do not conceive that
a woman could have written the Iliad. Its
theme would fail to interest her. That hard
handplay of battle counts for nought to our
sex. Clang of bronze sword on ringing shield
rouses no echo in our heart or brain. It is
a masculine poem. How practical it is, how
cold, how everyday, how mannish ! Con-
sidering its august age, how little it gleams
with the glamour of antiquity ! Ulysses in
the Iliad is just a shifty politician, an adroit
public speaker. Achilles is just a petulant,
ill-disciplined young warrior — I hav ^ met him
12 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
in London, fresh home from the Transvaal.
The whole mighty saga is a saga of men's
ideas, so sharp is it in its outlines, so his-
torical, so definite. But the Odyssey !
Yes, I read in it clearly the fine hand of a
woman. It has the vagueness, the elusive-
ness, the melting, hazy charm of feminine
craft. It thrills with mystery ; and woman
is the mystic. Look at its glorious dimness.
You descry its geography in veiled outline
only, as one beholds the Paps of Jura on a
day of sea-fog through swaying sheets of
white cloud from a fisherman's boat on the
Bay of Oban. It is a Celtic dreamland.
From morning to night, in that enchanted
poem, on and on we sail, past uncertain isles
or dubious blue headlands, begirt with fan-
tastic forms, and in perils of the sea more
awesome than the real. Architects have re-
constructed Priam's palace, I believe, from
the description in the Iliad. That is man's
way of describing. But who could reconstruct,
from the rapt words of the Odyssey, Circe's
island or the gardens of Alcinous ? Peering
and prying Schliemann found in the battle-
epic a whole plan of the Troad ; or, at least,
read one into it : fancy even imagining you
could construct a chart of the Mediterranean
INTRODUCES A LATTER-DAY HEROINE. 1 3
to show the homeward maze of the much-
travelled wanderer from Ilion to Ithaca !
The bare idea would indicate a misconception
of the Odyssey. For those are the seas and
islands that never were ; they live but in the
ghost-geography of poets and women.
As arguments, indeed, the proofs adduced
seem to me preposterous. It is nonsense to
say that in the Odyssey the chief role is played
by women. Do women's books deal exclu-
sively, or even mainly, with their own sex ?
Is not the Titan man, the strong, sardonic,
woman-quelling hero, a recognised common-
place of women's fancy ? I do not believe an
Ithacan lady wrote the Odyssey because of the
relative importance of Penelope and Nausicaa.
Surely even a man might have set Penelope
at her web, or Nausicaa at her tennis. In
that I see nothing occult or esoterically
feminine. Men must be aware that every
Circe has the power of turning men into
swine. They ought to know; they have seen
it done daily. No, those are not the reasons
that weigh with me. It is the wonder, the
magic, the pu/ple mystery, of the Odyssey
that tells to rny mind in favour of its female
authorship. And though I know Mr. Samuel
Butler's theory is not true, 1 thank God I
14 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
am woman enough none the less to embrace
But what has all this to do with my story
— the story I am setting out in my own
fashion to tell you ? A great deal ; and
besides, unless you let me tell it in my own
wayward way, I can never get through with
it. In that respect also I hold myself true
woman. And this is the connection. "If
only we could have lived in those days ! "
people say. I answer, " You are living in
them." It is not the days, not the places,
not the things that change, but we who
see them otherwise. Consider, the Medi-
terranean is the same sea to-day as when
the Ithacan lady who wrote the Odyssey
looked out upon its blue zones to behold
it peopled with strange forms and wizard
shadows. For that nameless Sappho, that
prehistoric Charlotte Bronte, that inchoate
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Ionian main
swarmed alive with Gorgons and Harpies
as Loch Fyne with herrings. Sirens sang
on every rock to lure the seaman ; promon-
tories glowed red at set of sun with the
forges of the Cyclops. You may steam down
the prosaic Adriatic to-day in an Austrian
Lloyd steamer — a fearsome Behemoth, bel-
INTRODUCES A LATTER-DAY HEROINE. 1 5
lowing, snorting, flame-breathing — and identify
those charmed shores of Hellenic fancy, as
laid down, with soundings, in the Admiralty
surveys. But that is your blindness. Scylla
and Charybdis are there as of old : 'tis you
who turn them into the Straits of Messina.
Polyphemus still haunts his seaward cave :
'tis you who transform him into a custom-
house officer. Adventures are to the ad-
venturous. Go through the world in search
of Calypso, and you will surely find her.
Be modern, and you will find only Willesden
Junction. That may suffice for you. I live
in " those days," as all lovers oi the mystical
have always lived in them.
And I will go forth into the world in search
of adventures. They are sure to come to me ;
for faith moves mountains. In every age,
when the Princess Cleodolind is sent out
from the city as a prey for the dragon, some
youthful St. George, in celestial armour, rides
by in the nick of time, on his snow-white
steed, and draws his trusty blade, and fights
for her, and rescues her from the loathly
thing. Else what were the use of faith and
of poetry ? In every age we fashion the story
anew in our passing manner, dressing it up
in our own clothes, and fitting it to our
l6 THE TV1'E-\VRITER (JIKL.
particular modes and morals. But 'tis the
same to the end through all disguises. The
Greeks told it as the tale of Perseus and
Andromeda ; they made their hero purely
Greek, a triumphant young son of immortal
Zeus, who rescues a beautiful princess, with
fair nude limbs like Parian marble, from the
devouring sea-monster. Mediaeval Italy made
the sign of the cross, turned the son of
Danae into a Christian martyr, and clad the
beautiful nude maiden in clinging silk robes,
as it would fain have clad Melian Aphrodite
herself when it converted her image into a
crowned Madonna. The Renaissance came,
and Cellini unclothed her again, in his revived
paganism, to set her polished bronze limbs,
where every eye might see and stare, in the
Piazza at Florence. Our modern novelists
dress her up afresh in the princess robe of
the day (sage green or crushed strawberry),
and turn her loose on that slimy old dragon
the world, till Prince Charming comes by,
as a baronet in a tennis suit, to lay at her
feet ten thousand a year and the title of My
Lady. But 'tis the old tale still, and who
lists to tell it may trick it out once more in
his own heart's fashion. For though there
be nothing new under the sun, the old wonder
INTRODUCES A LATTER-DAY HEROINE. 1/
is there, as marvellous as ever, if you choose
to marvel at it. Each spring brings it back,
a perpetual miracle.
So I set forth into the world, a Princess
Cleodolind of the nineteenth century, ready
to face the dragons that, as I well know,
abound in it, and full of faith in the St. George
who will come to rescue me. I mean to sail
away on my Odyssey, unabashed, touching
at such shores as may chance to beckon, yet
I hopeful of reaching at last the realms of
From all which you may guess that I am
a Girton girl.
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE.
You may guess it, I say ; for it is no part ol
my plan to tell you. Being a woman, I throw
out this hint to pique your curiosity.
Let us return to the point that I was
twenty-two, and had no employment. Com-
missioner Lin and I were alone and friend-
Four months earlier I had suffered a great
loss. How great a loss I am not careful to
assure you. It is far from my desire to make
capital out of my inmost heart. I cannot spin
phrases about my dead father. But by this
time the first fierce numbness of my sorrow
had worn away ; I was no longer a stone ; I was
beginning to smile, and to feel the sunshine.
A certain quicksilver light-heartedness in the
veins of my race helps to conceal a back-
ground of feeling. Besides, I had my live-
lihood to earn. That is a great resource.
The need for bread served to edge out my
k,. * »
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. 19
grief. My first four months had been assured
ine beforehand in the Settlement ; for we
paid in advance, half-yearly, our Warden
being a prudent soul who disliked bad debts,
and preferred the safe side. But when the
four months of my deepest mourning were
over, it was absolutely necessary for me to
How it all came about I need not inform
you : the bank that broke, the electric light
that failed : I was told the details in terms so
crabbed that if I tried to repeat them I could
but show my ignorance.
It was not hard for me to be poor ; for in
the Settlement we lived as the other East-
Enders live, and I had learned from my
match-girls how to be hungry and merry.
But my poverty hitherto had been that of the
amateur; I had now to learn professional
indigence. When I shook hands with Sister
Phyllis and Sister Agatha at the door of
the guild, leaving Commissioner Lin in their
charge for the moment, and went forth into
the world to earn my living, I had six and
elevenpence as available assets. I was a
capitalist in my way. That formed my capital.
" Under these circumstances," I said to
myself, " the first thing for a prudent girl to
20 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
do is to look out for lunch ; the second thing
is to look out for a situation."
I do not pretend to prevision ; on the con-
trary, I was born to take no heed for the
morrow. I belong to the tribe of the grass-
hopper, not that of the ant. But I had been
so deeply impressed by Sister Phyllis's ex-
hortations during my last four months in the
guild that I had taken pains to learn short-
hand and type-writing. I did not then know
that every girl in London can write short-
hand, and that type-writing as an accom-
plishment is as diffused as the piano ; else
I might have turned my hand to some
honest trade instead, such as millinery or
cake-making. However, a type-writer I was,
and a type-writer I must remain. So I set
forth on my Odyssey by walking down the
phantom-haunted channel of the Strand, and
cast anchor for my first halt in an aerated
Luxury, we are told, demoralises this age,
and (while I remain a type-writer) I am ab-
solute to set my face against it. But a cup
of coffee and a slice of seed-cake (not too
luxuriously sweetened) lay well within the
compass of my capital. I am a poor arith-
metician, but I arrive by finger-lore at the net
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. 21
result that fourpence from six and elevenpence
leaves six and seven. I took up an evcninj;
paper, which some recklessly extravagant cus-
tomer had bequeathed to his successors, and
my eye scanned the advertisements. Hands
that waved a signal seemed to catch my glance.
"A sail on the horizon!" I cried to myself.
And this is what I read —
" Shorthand and Type-writer wanted
(female). Legal work. — Apply Flor and
Fingelman, 2'jn, Southampton Row."
I felt myself already on the road to fortune.
A glance at the date : it was to-day's paper !
In matters of business, promptitude is every-
thing. I would be the first to apply. I tossed
off my hot coffee with unbecoming haste, and,
deeply impressed with the fact that in this
age the struggle for existence has become one
of the rights of woman, I hurried with all
speed to Flor and Fingelman's.
I was a Shorthand and Type-writer
(female) ; and I was fully prepared to be as
legal as they desired of me.
I do not say that " female " is a poetical
description. I have never heard it applied
to Heloise or to Ophelia — not even by the
grave-digger ; though Touchstone, to be sure,
uses it once of Audrey. But the nineteenth
32 THE TYrE-WRITER GIRL,
century has a chivalry all its own, which I
scruple to depreciate. If it speaks of us as
females, it has given us the bicycle, and it
almost admits that we are as fit for the fran-
chise as the forty-shilling lodger. It puts us
a little lower than the navvies. I call that
I had made haste to run up Charing Cross
Road, and when I reached Southampton Row,
impressed by the importance of the Struggle
for Existence, I believe I was absolute win-
ner in the race against time for the position
of Shorthand and Type-writer (female).
Up two pair of stairs, where a notice led,
I entered the Outer Office. Its keynote was
fustiness. Three clerks (male), in seedy
black coats, the eldest with hair the colour of
a fox's, went on chaffing one another for two
minutes after I closed the door, with osten-
tatious unconsciousness of my insignificant
No doubt they inferred that I was a can-
didate for the post of Shorthand and Type-
writer (female), and they treated me as such
persons may look to be treated. Their talk
turned upon that noble animal, the horse.
They spoke also of the turf; by which I
understood them to allude, not so much to
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. 23
the greensward of the downs, as to the im-
perceptible moral turf of Fleet Street. The
two younger were indeterminate young men,
with straight black hair, and features modelled
on an oyster's. As they appeared to be
loftily unaware of my intrusion, I signified my
presence by coughing slightly. It was the
apologetic cough that stands for " I beg your
pardon, but will you kindly attend to me ? "
They did not permit even the cough, how-
ever, to hurry them unduly. The youngest
of the three, a pulpy youth, adjusted his
cuffs, and completed some deep remarks upon
two-year-old form before he turned to stare
at me. I suppose he was kind enough to be
satisfied with my personal appearance, for
after a while he wheeled round on his high
stool, and broke out with the chivalry of his
age and class, "Well, what's your business?"
My voice trembled a little, but I mustered
up courage and spoke. " I have called about
your advertisement for a Shorthand and
He eyed me up and down. I am slender,
and, I will venture to say, if not pretty, at
" How many words a minute ? " he asked
after a long pause.
24 thb: type-writer girl.
I stretched truth as far as its elasticity
would permit. " One ninety-seven," I an-
swered with an affectation of the precisest
accuracy. To say "Two hundred " were com-
The pulpy youth ran his eyes over me as
if I were a horse for sale. I was conscious
of my little black dress and hat ; conscious
also of a fiery patch in the centre of my
cheek; but if you struggle for life you must ex-
pect these episodes. " That's good enough,"
he said slowly, with a side-glance at his
fellow-clerks. I had a painful suspicion that
the words were intended rather for them
than for me, and that they bore reference
more to my face and figure than to my real
or imagined pace per minute.
The eldest clerk, with the foxy head,
wheeled round, and took his turn to stare.
He had hairy hands and large gogg'e-eyes.
" Got your own machine ? " he asked.
" A Barlock."
"That'll do," he said, eyeing the rest. And
again I detected an undercurrent of double
meaning. He seemed to be expressing modi-
fied satisfaction at my outer personality.
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. 2$
They questioned me for some minutes with
equal grace and charm. Then the eldest rose
slowly. "I'll tell the governor," he mur-
mured, and disappeared through a dingy door
marked in large letters "Mr. Fingelman."
In a short time he came back and
beckoned me mysteriously. I followed him,
trembling. He waved his hairy hand to-
wards me as if to show me off to the
man at the table. I felt disagreeably like
Esther in the presence of Ahasueru.s — a fat
and oily Ahasuerus of fifty. " This is the
young person," he said, by way of intro-
Ahasuerus — otherwise Mr. Fingelman —
inspected me in turn. I quailed before his
glance; he was a commissioner for oaths, and
wore large round spectacles. " Had ex-
perience ? " he asked at last. In person he
was rotund and obviously wealthy, though
'twas a third-rate solicitor's.
"A little," I replied. I had made up my
mind to say "Lots" beforehand; but when
it came to the pinch, the ingrained bad habit
of speaking the truth reasserted itself par-
Ahasuerus stared. " What name ? " he
asked, after a long stony gaze.
26 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
I Stammered out "Juliet Appleton."
" Age ? "
He perused me up and down with his small
pig's-eyes, as if he were buying a horse, scru-
tinising my face, my figure, my hands, my
feet. I felt like a Circassian in an Arab slave-
market. I thought he would next proceed to
examine my teeth. But he did not. Having
satisfied himself as to externals, he went on
to put me through my paces.
" S down there," he said, pointing to a
scat. "Have you pen and note-book?" I
produced my stylograph.
He grunted approbation, and dictated for a
few minutes a short business-letter. Then
he waved me to the type-writer. " Tran-
scribe," he said curtly. I sat down and
The chief clerk meanwhile stood by, with
his hairy hands crossed in a curved attitude
of ostentatious servility, which contrasted
strangely with his Outer Office manner.
When I had finished, he peered at my work,
nodded, and handed it over to Ahasuerus.
Ahasuerus ran his eye up and down, grunt-
ing again. " She'll do ? " he said interroga-
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. 2^
The chief clerk signed jv<?5.
"She's the first we've seen," Ahasuerus
interposed, with caution in liis tone.
"Saves trouble," said the chief clerk. I
was aware with a rush of hot blood that the
chief clerk approved of me, and that to his
lordly approbation (as of the Sultan's Vizier)
I owed my appointment.
The Oriental monarch waved his pen to-
wards the door. " Very well," he answered.
" Settle terms with her outside. You know
what I give. Bother me no more with it."
And wheeling round his swivel-chair, he
buried himself in his writing.
The terms the Vizier proposed were not
wholly superior to the dreams of avarice ; but
they were a modest starvation ; and after my
East-End experiences, I looked for no more.
I accepted them without demur, and went
forth into Southampton Row an engaged
I have a mercurial temperament. My
spirits rise and fall as if they were consols.
This success exalted me. I walked down
Charing Cross Road (by no means, as a rule,
an exhilarating thoroughfare) in the seventh
heaven. I had justified myself before the im-
partial tribunal of political economy. I could
28 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
earn my own bread — butter doubtful. In the
Struggle for Life I had obtained a footing.
This magnificent post of Shorthand and Type-
writer(female) had been thrown open by adver-
tisement to public competition. In that compe-
tition I had won the day. My energy, my
promptitude, the rapid resolution with which I
had gulped down my coffee, burnt my tongue,
and rushed off to Southampton Row, had se-
cured for me the prize of a modest starvation.
I had proved myself fittest by the mere fact of
survival. Matthew Arnold had taught me,
indeed, with much sweet reasonableness, that
there was not any proper reason for my exist-
ing; but I like to exist. The sole remaining
question was. Could I adapt myself to my en-
vironment ? If so, I had fulfilled the whole
gospel of Darwinism.
It was a wrench to tear myself away from my
old men and women in the Isle of Dogs, for I
truly loved them. The operation left a scar
that was slow to heal. I felt I did them good :
my visits cheered them, unlike the curate's ;
my whimsical talk broke the monotony of old
age and the East-End. But doing good is a
luxury, and I was now face to face with the
strict necessity of earning my livelihood. Yet
hope lies still at the bottom of Pandora's box.
Though I had but six and sevenpence in the
world, and starvation wages, I started blithely
to my work at Flor and Fingelman's.
I had found a room meanwhile to which my
purse consented. The normal difficulties of
lodging-hunting had been aggravated in my
case by the need for finding a house where I
should not be separated from Commissioner
Lin ; which made a back-yard a necessity :
but I succeeded in surmounting them. Com-
30 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
missioner Lin, I may say, to allay your fears,
is my mongrel Chinese bull-pup. Like Ulys-
ses, 1 have a dog ; he is ugly, but n; beauty,
and, oh, such a dear ! I may starve, but the
Commissioner shares my last crust.
Geographically, my post was in the Outer
Office. Early each morning 1 went in to the
inner recess of Shushan the palace to receive
Ahasuerus's instructions, and to take down
from his royal lips my shorthand notes, which
I afterwards expanded on the type-writer in
the anteroom. Ahasuerus was graciously
pleased to like me. I found favour, also, in the
eyes of the Grand Vizier ; he was good enough
to say my work was intelligent. I had doubts
in my own mind as to the Vizier's competence
to form an opinion on this head ; but was he
not a man — a vote-wielding citizen, empowered
to take his share (vicariously) in the counsels
of the nation ? and was not I but a Shorthand
and Type-writer (female) ? I bowed to the
wisdom of the superior sex, and answered
with a modest blush that I rejoiced to have
earned his approval.
The morning and afternoon were taken up
in ei'panding letters and copying drafts of
documents. Their style was execrable. The
principal verb adroitly concealed itself: the
ENVIRONMENT WINS. 3 I
principal adjective was usually " aforesaid."
Now, regarded as an epithet, I find "afore-
said " colourless. Its monotony bored me. I
suggested to Ahasuerus that his prose might
be enriched by a greater variety of graphic
adjectives such as "amethystine," "prismatic,"
"opalescent," "empyrean," or even "colos-
sal ; " but he stared at me coldly, and replied
in a curt voice that legal phraseology was
necessarily limited. The Grand Vizier, also,
cavalierly rejected my mild suggestions for an
enlarged vocabulary. He contended that I
should model my composition on Chitiy on
Contract. He was right, of course ; but I
found the iteration of " provided always " in
that well of legal English intensely irksome.
The anteroom where I clicked was shared
by the Grand Vizier and the two other clerks.
They talked incessantly ; I was forced to con-
tinue my transcription without interruption,
in spite of their voices. I will admit that
their discourse, as such, by no means dis-
tracted me, in virtue either of its intrinsic
attractiveness or of the nature of its subjects.
It circled chiefly round the noble quadruped,
with divergences on Rugby and Association
football. I did not gather that the Vizier and
his satellites knew much at first hand about
32 THE TYl'K-WKITEK GIKL.
the breed of race-horses, nor could they
have distinguished with ease between a fet-
lock and a cannon-bone. They loved sport
from afar : they were platonically horsey.
But they were diligent students of a daily
journal in the interest of manly pastimes : and
they extracted from its pages many charming
speculations as to the numerical chance of
first and second favourites. They also spoke
freely of the ladies of the music-hall. As their
tongues rippled on, with peculiar London
variants on the vowels of our native language,
my type-writer continued to go click, click,
click, till I was grateful for its sound as a
counter-irritant to their inanity.
That click, click, click became to me like
music — if only because it drowned the details
of the Lewes Spring Meeting. I saw in it all
a trail of Ibsenesque atavism. The horse was
the sacred beast of the English in the days of
Woden, and, in spite of St. Augustine and
John Wesley, his worship still survives, its
festivals attracting thousands of pilgrims each
year to the centres of the cult at Epsom and
Newmarket. Devotees may be known by
their badge, a pink paper, which blushes
itself, and is a cause of blushing in others.
Another peculiarity of the Outer Office was
•:iNVIRONMENT WINS. 33
its richness in dust — the dust specific to a
solicitor's premises. I thinl<, in this age of
sanitation, I have kept my head tolerably un-
prejudiced on the subject of germs ; I do not
speak evil of bacteria with the reckless extra-
vagance of the world at large ; I am prepared
to live and let live ; nor do 1 deny to the
bacilli of typhoid fever the common right to
the struggle for existence. But the bacilli
at Flor and Fingelman's, I must admit, were
obtrusively aggressive. They carried the
war into Africa. They flew about me visibly
whenever I lifted a book ; they settled in
myriads on my poor black dress ; they in-
vaded my hair, and required to be daily dis-
lodged by violent hostilities. The three clerks
seemed to me to disregard them altogether ;
and when I ventured timidly to suggest a
duster, they were almost as horrified as when
I proposed to vary the bald language of a writ
by the introduction of a few graceful chroma-
tic adjectives. Fustiness and mustiness are
part of the profession, it seems ; you must no
more attempt to sweep the Augean stables
than to carry out that other Herculean task
— the simplifying and codification of the law
For three mornings and three afternoons I
34 THE TVrE-WKITKR GIRL. j
endured Flor and Fingelman's. It was a '
question of self versus environment. I am a
unit of the proletariat, and dear Sister Agatha
had impressed upon me often, with lier sad,
sweet smile, the fundamental truth that beg-
gars must not be choosers. So I continued
to click, click, click, like a machine that I was,
and to listen as little as possible to the calcu-
lated odds upon King Arthur for the Ascot
Cup, till I was tired of the subject. On the
fourth day, however, the rebel in my blood
awoke. Not for nothing had my fathers
fought at Lexington. I felt I must strike one
blow for freedom. The aforesaid office failed
to respond to the needs of the party of the
first part. I went out to lunch, half resolved
in the whirligig I call my mind never to go
It was not the Grand Vizier, with his hairy
hands, his goggle eyes, and his false diamonds;
though a certain insolent condescension in the
creature's manner made me shrink from his
presence. It was not the junior clerks ; though
the tone of voice with which they addressed
me as " Miss " reminded me of the accent
in which I had often heard men of their type
bespeak a defenceless barmaid ; while their
demeanour varied from the haughty to the
ENVIRONMENT WINS. 35
condescending. It was Ahasuerus himself
whose Oriental leer drove me from the office.
I felt sure Ahasuerus considered his manner
killing — a three-tailed bashaw, with a natural
gift of captivating Circassians. His smile was
the smile that knows itself irresistible. He
had not as yet ventured anything rude to me ;
but I scented prospective rudeness in the way
he watched me come in and out — the way he
beamed on me benignly, with his small pig's-
eyes, as who should say, " See how bland and
how pleasant I am ; you must rejoice, mere
female, to have secured the favour of so genial
a gentleman, who revels in semi-detached
affluence at Balham." I fled from his oily face,
assured that the law was not my proper
sphere. I would diverge into paths of more
All this time I had been living upon Capi-
tal. If you judge such conduct imprudent,
remember that I could hardly have lived upon
its interest. My six and sevenpence was
almost spent. I owed my landlady (at the
single room I had taken) for bread and rent.
I had nothing left for my own food or for Mr.
Commissioner. The outlook was serious.
Dimly aware of failure in the Struggle for
Life — inability to succeed in Adaptation to the
36 THE TVl'E-WKITER GIKL.
Environment — I retired for lunch to a little
shop close by, whose merits the Grand Vizier
had from the first impressed upon me.
At the table by my side sat two middle-
aged men. They were talking earnestly. I
detected at once in the mellow tone of the
better-looking of tlie two that he was a Cam-
bridge man and a political economist. 'J'he
Moral Sciences Tripos has its special aroma.
After the rippling tittle-tattle of the noble
quadruped I was glad to listen even to the
voice of economics. I strained my ears. It
was pleasant to hear educated men speak
again. And their talk was full of interest.
"You have been to see them? "the first
" Yes," the Cambridge man answered. " It
is an interesting experiment, though fore-
doomed to failure. They say they want to try
anarchy in practice. They have bought ten
acres of wild land very cheap ; they are
getting it into tillage ; and they mean to
manage it upon Kropotkine's system of in-
Intensive culture ! I saw at once what that
meant. What a capital plan ! Till the land
to the utmost, so as to make the largest
possible amount of food or roses come out of
ENVIRONMENT WINS. 37
it. And anarchists, too ! Why, I was born
an anarchist. Never could I endure being
ordered about by anj one. After Flor and
Fingehnan's — click, clici<, click, all day — what
a vista of Eden ! I sat a postulant at the
gate of that Paradise. Just to go out into the
fields and till them anarchically !
"And have they no organisation ?"
" None at all. He told me it was a band
of brothers. I asked him by what rule they
worked. He said each man or woman
laboured when he or she chose ! If he didn't
feel inclined he left off for that day and sat in
the sun, basking. They cultivate in common ;
each member of the community receives food
and clothes ; and at the end of the week, if
any surplus remain, they divide it between
them by way of pocket-money."
" Then it acts, so far."
" Yes, apparently. But 'tis new. They
look healthy enough, though pallid, and they
are certainly enthusiastic. I asked Rothen-
burg how he liked it ; he said it was delight-
ful — ten thousand times better than being a
tailor in Paris."
I could no longer restrain myself. A
caprice seized me. I leaned across the table.
" Pardon me," I said, " but may I venture
38 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
to ask, as an anarchist in the grain, where
shall I find this Utopia, this Eldorado of
anarchy ? "
The Cambridge man smiled.
" Near Horsham," he answered. " But —
excuse curiosity — are you really an anar-
chist ? "
" I will join them ! " I cried, clasping my
hands. " I have every qualification. I am
alone in the world, and penniless — splendid
material for anarchy. Such idyllic anarch}^,
too ! Do they receive mere women ? "
" I think," the Cambridge man replied,
"they would be charmed to take you. But
remember, they are uncultivated — the raw
material of a state, rough working men and
women. Go down and see them by all means.
But when you have inspected their home I
venture to hazard a guess that you will decide
it is not meant for ladies."
" I am young," I answered ; " I have toler-
able strength and abundant energy. Misfor-
tunes are nothing if one takes them in the
spirit of camping out. Hardships cease to be
hardships when you talk of them as roughing
it. After all, it is only what we voluntarily
do at a picnic up the river. At least, I will
go down and interview your anarchists."
ENVIRONMENT WINS. 39
He scribbled their precise address on the
back of an envelope, with a smile for my en-
thusiasm. I went home to my solitary room
at once, and sat down to my private and par-
ticular Barlock — the same on which I am in-
diting these present memoirs — to write out
my resignation to Flor and Fingelman.
"WHEREAS I, the undersigned, have
worked for three days and upwards, be the
same more or less, to my great discomfort, in
your dingy, stingy, musty, and fusty office ; and
WHEREAS I have found the post of Short-
hand and Type-writer (female) which you have
deigned to bestow upon me, in the aforesaid
office, highly disagreeable to my mind and
brain, owing as well to the impurity of the air
as to the dulness and monotony of the terms
employed in it ; and WHEREAS I am now
desirous of seeking other and more congenial
employment elsewhere than in the aforesaid
dinginess, stinginess, mustiness, and fustiness,
as herein designated, NOW THEREFORE,
This Indenture Witnesseth and know all men
by these presents, that I have made up my
mind not to return to your messuage or tene-
ment this afternoon, nor on any subsequent
40 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
date, but to relinquish entirely the aforesaid
post of Shorthand and Type-writer (female)
with all and sundry the emoluments or salaries
thereto pertaining, and to say good-bye to you,
the aforesaid Flor and Fingelman, and to your
Grand Vizier and other faithful satellites. In
witness whereof I have hereto set my hand
and seal, this twenty-first day of May, in the
year of our Lord, &c., &c.
I put it into an envelope and dropped it
into the post ; then I turned again on my
way, a Free Woman.
Free, but penniless.
Hurrah for anarchy ! flowery, bowery
anarchy, in a careless-ordered garden, run
wild with eglantine ! Could a Peri hope to
storm that Eden ?
THE CHOICE OF A PATRON.
I PROWLED along the Strand, in quest of an
inspiration. You will readil}' conceive that
the situation was serious. I had disbursed
my last coin for lunch that morning. True,
I had still my bicycle ; and by its aid I might
set off to join my unknown brothers, the
anarchists, near Horsham. But my heart
smote me, for I had not wherewith to pay
my landlady. Had I worked out my week
with Ahasuerus, no doubt I might have
settled her bill, and gone on my way hon-
estly. But I could not leave her in the lurch ;
nor, indeed, could I set out without the con-
tents of my modest portmanteau. My effects
must go with me. Thus the position teemed
with difficulties. I had an aunt in London,
of course ; I suppose not even the most desti-
tute are ever wholly deprived of the solace of
a maiden aunt in London. Conscience sug-
gested that in such a crisis I ought to consult
42 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
her. But fortunately I belong to a generation
which has analysed conscience away. " Go
to the aunt," said Duty. " Stop away," said
Inclination. And Inclination, as usual, won
in a canter — I might almost say. Inclination
walked over. If you doubt that these meta-
phors are becoming on a woman's lips, you
must recollect that my style had been suffering
for three days from the enforced proximity of
the Grand Vizier, his satraps, and the noble
I could not go to the aunt. She was the
average woman of the small fixed income ;
prosaic, stagnant, serenely literal ; a placid
pool that reflects its surroundings. It was
her fixed belief that everything I did was in
equal parts foolish and wicked. No doubt
she was right ; but her arguments vexed me.
" It is quite impossible for a young lady to do
so," she said about many actions which I
knew from experience to be not only possible
but actual. So I avoided the aunt, and set
my face toward the shop-windows for light
and guidance. I found it, of course. Faith
is always rewarded, or I like to think so. At
a corner shop, devoted to the sale of more
or less genuine bric-a-brac ^ I saw in the
window a charming little Fra Angelico,
THE CHOICE OF A PATRON. 43
almost a replica of a miniature I remem-
bered to have noted at the Vatican. Whether
it was authentic or not I do not presume to
decide ; who am I that I should give myself
the airs of a Morelli ? But its naivete^ its
grace, its frank purity of colour, were obvious
at once, even to the eye of a woman. The
picture represented what is called in art the
Charity of St. Nicholas. Through an open
door you see into the home of a poor noble-
man. 'Tis a dainty interior, of the age when
drab had not wholly ousted the primary hues.
In the background his three starving daugh-
ters lie snugly in bed — a trio of innocent
maidens, with pretty blonde heads of infantile
guilelessness, laid on white pillows, between
dimity curtains. In the foreground the noble-
man their father is seated, the picture of
despair, in a long vermilion robe and a brown
study ; without, by a grated window, the dear
young saint himself, in Florentine hose, with
a sleeveless jerkin, stands timidly on tip-toe,
in the very act of dropping three purses of gold
as dowries for the maidens through the open
casement. The story is told with the pellucid
simplicity of early Tuscan art ; no airs and
graces, but just the bare outline of facts which
it behoves you to know ; — these girls are
44 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
poor ; their father is at his wits' end ; and
3'onder amiable young gentleman, in crimson
and puce, has come to their rescue, like a
gallant Christian, willi purses of gold very fat
I stood long and looked at it. It was so
archly engaging. The clear-cut outlines, the
translucent hues, the sweet old-world direct-
ness, the stor3'-telling faculty, each charmed
and beguiled me. "After all," I said to my-
self, " St. Nicholas, not St. George, is the
saint for me. My dragon is povert3^ St.
George for princesses ; St. Nicholas for the
poor and portionless maiden ! " I gazed at
him long, with affectionate eyes ; then I went
on my way towards the National Galler}'-,
strengthened and comforted.
Have you found out the true use of the
National Gallery, I wonder ? On three days
in the week the British nation throws those
stately rooms open, free, to any woman who
chooses to enter them. I use them as my
drawing-room. You get a comfortable chair
to sit upon for nothing; you get pictures to
look at ; and in winter the gallery is heated
by flues, over which you car stand and warm
your feet gratis. I went ir on this critical
afternoon of my history, n^t onl^^ for rest, but
THE CHOICE OF A PATRON. 45
in search of St. Nicholas — St. Nicliolas of
Myra — St. Nicholas of Bari — St. Nicholas,
the giver of dowries to damsels. My dear
father had been a lover of Italian art, and had
taught me betimes the legends of the saints,
without which Fra Angelico and Benozzo
Gozzoli talk a strange tongue to you. I was
certain now that St. Nicholas, not St. George,
was my predestined patron. He was so good
to the poor, and especially to maidens. In
many pictures on those walls I beheld him
as of old, in his bishop's robes, benign and
benevolent, a model of suavity, holding the
three golden balls which typify the three fat
purses of gold he threw in at the window to
the starving daughters of the nobleman of
Myra. He was the saint of the oppressed,
the enslaved, the suffering. If knighthood
had its St. George, serfdom had its St.
Nicholas. I saw him again, with his three
spheres of gold, traced by the hand of
Raphael in the Blenheim Madonna ; a cour-
teous old gentleman here, bland and mild,
and very sweet of feature. I saw him in
many other less famous pictures, a friend in
need, ever gentle and helpful, the patron of
children, of the distressed, of the storm-tossed.
I saw him in many guises, painted for the
THE TYPE-WRITER GIKL.
most part in what, in default of exact know-
ledge, I will call a chasuble, but always as the
deliverer. My heart went forth to him.
" Holy Nicholas," I murmured, " you were
my father's friend ; be my friend as well !
Stand by me, and protect me ! "
I issued once more into the phantom-
crowded Strand. Below, the streaming street
was full of those hurrying, scurrying men
with black bags, bound as ever for the Un-
known. But above — I lifted my eyes, and
there, clear against the sky, I beheld — the
three golden balls of St. Nicholas.
VIVE LANARCHIE /
I DREW a deep breath. He was the poor
man's saint; his symbol has descended to the
poor man's banker.
Yet my confidence after all was not all
misplaced. St. Nicholas, at a pinch, would
provide my dowry.
It flashed across me at a stroke what those
golden balls meant. Never before had I
divined their meaning — their intimate con-
nection with my newly-chosen patron. 1
caught at it now clearly. Nicholas, I knew,
was the saint of the people — the saint of the
labourer who toils for daily bread, of the
fisherman who struggles with the stormy sea,
of the orphan, of the slave, of the child, the
captive, the prisoner, the unfortunate. No
wonder, then, that his golden balls have sur-
vived as the badge of that generous profession
which freely lends to all the poor who leave
a pledge behind.
4$ THE TYPE-WKITEK GIKL.
I accepted the omen. Tempest-tossed as I
was, my precious type-writer might save me
for the day from the present distresses. I
hurried back to my altic in a street off Soho,
packed it up in its case, and carried it with
difficulty in my own small arms to the shrine
of St. Nicholas.
My errand, I grant, was new, and repug-
nant. But necessity, like our magistrates,
knows no law. 1 will not pretend that 1
passed those dubious portals without a flush
of shame. Still, I passed them bravely.
" How much ?" asked the acolyte.
I was inexperienced in the ritual of the
sordid temple. " Three pounds ? " I queried
He cut me short with a gesture of con-
tempt. " We could do thirty shillings."
"I paid twenty pounds for it," I murmured.
He shrugged his shoulders. "An error of
judgment, I should say. Thirty shillings.
Do you take it ? "
I was anxious to escape from the squalid
place. Bundles of shabby clothes in square
pigeon-holes daunted me. "I accept," I said,
gasping. He counted out the money, and
handed me a ticket.
I fled, like one followed by a roaring wild
VIVE i.'anakciue! 49
beast. No quicker flies the Arimaspian whom
the gryphon pursues. Nor did I pause or
halt till I reached my own bower. Safe back
in that stronghold, I bolted and locked the
door, and washed the pollution off me in an
orgy of cold water.
Then the dignity of womanhood reasserted
itself. I sat back in the one arm-chair, and
reflected. A freak is dear to my soul. I would
pay my weekly bill before starting, carry my
knapsack with me, and engage the room for
another week in advance, in case the anar-
chists should chance to prove too anarchic
for my taste. And after that, who dare call
me imprudent ? 'Tis the habit of twenty-two
to burn its boats. When it takes measures
for preserving them, you should give it credit
for singular forethought.
I had still my faithful bicycle. I rose be-
times next morning, and endued myself in
my cycling costume, which, like all else about
nie_(I trust), is rational. The Commissioner
and I stole silently down the stairs. Before
London was well awake we had left West-
minster Bridge behind us in the haze, and
were off on the open road, on our way towards
Horsham, two palmers bent for the Holy
Land of Anarch3^
THE TVriC-WUITEK (;IRL.
How light and free I felt ! When man
first set woman on two wheels with a pair of
pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had
rent the veil of the harem in twain ? I doubt
it ; but so it was. A woman on a bicycle has
all the world before her where to choose ;
she can go where she will, no man hindering.
I felt it that brisk May morning as I span
down the road, with a Tam o' Shantcr on my
head, and my loose hair travelling after me
like a Skye terrier.
"This," thought I to myself, "is truly
my Odyssey. To play at being a latter-day
Ulysses in London, among those crowded
streets, is like a child's game — too much make-
believe. But mounted here on the ship of
the high-road, scudding gaily down hill, or
luffing against head-winds on a steep upward
slope, I feel myself the heroine of a modern
sea epic. As I coast by narrow straits of
hedge-bordered lane, round some lumbering
cart, I steer with care betwixt headland and
whirlpool. Siren inns hang out signs to
becken me into port ; piratical carts, bucca-
neering drays, skidding fast down long slopes,
strive to crush me as they pass like living
Symplegades. In perils oft, I yet feel the
fresh wind in my teeth, and see the foam
VIVE l'anarciiie! 51
of May break over hawthorn promontories.
Troy lies behind ; in front of me beckons
the peaceful Ithaca of my anarchist settle-
The road, indeed, was a pleasant one.
Lying at first among suburban quarters, pink
with blossom at that perfect moment of the
year, and heavy with lilac, it grew greener
by degrees as it stretched out to the rising
plain of Surrey and then swelled up slowly
into the great breaker of the chalk downs.
That huge wave of land rises in a long curve
on the side towards London, but curls over
abruptly by Box Hill and Dorking, like a
billow that has hardened in the act of break-
ing. My way led me through a deep gorge
that cuts the slope of this ridge at right
angles, beside a wandering stream, as though
one stroke of some great magician's wand
had cleft a way for it through the barrier.
The ravine is bordered to the left by a cliff-
like edge, overgrown witli juniper bushes.
They call it the Vale of Mickleham. Spring
had put on her best frock for my visit. I
rode at a good pace. Commissioner Lin toiled
behind, with his tongue out. Then we broke
into the open, where a steeple showed the
way, and through a billowy common, crest
THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
after trough alternately, dotted thick with
holly-trees, across the Weald of Sussex. A
still., pearly-pale sky hung over the misty
level. Despondent donkeys munched furze-
tops and mused pessimism. Trains dashed
under bridges with long streamers of steam,
as I rode over them unabashed — huge mon-
sters of burnished brass, snorting death from
their throats, such as would have terrified
the timid Achaean sailors. But I took no
heed of them — I, the braver daughter of an
iron age, trained to disregard dragons of
that mechanical sort, and to fear only those
against whom St. Nicholas is potent — I had
seen one but yesterday on Margaritone's
panel. The horses that passed over by my
side reared and quivered at the ungainly
monster; but my undaunted steel palfrey,
himself a scion of the iron age, showed no
sign of weakness. Or if he trembled at all,
'twas something wrong in the gearing.
A mile or two from Horsham I diverged,
as directed, down a cross-road to the left.
'Twas a level iane in champaign country,
bordered by a low hedge of close-clipped
maple. The fields were of leaden clay —
so much I saw where they were ploughed
— muddy, and all but impassable in wet
♦ VIVE l'anarchie ! ' 53
weather, to meet which state of morass every
cottage was approached by a small paved
causeway of flags, giving a singularly distinc-
tive note to the district. Many such I passed,
each built of pale red brick, each tiled with
mossy tiles, and each approached through a
square of front garden by its town-like pave-
ment. The lanes were a maze, running aim-
lessly hither and thither. One after another,
as I tried it, led me back by circumvolutions
to a rustic Clapham Junction, the centre of
Nowhere. Judge if I was nonplussed.
At one of the cottages I reined up at last,
and, leaning from my saddle, called out to a
boy who was weeding the front patch : " Can
you tell me where I shall find the anarchist
settlement ? "
The boy looked up, taken aback It was
clear that the rationality of my dress as-
tonished him. And, indeed, 'tis so rare to be
rational in this world that I was not surprised
at his surprise. He stared at me with a
frank provincial stare ; I am not sure that
he did not design heaving half a brick at
me, in recognition of m.y originality. But he
contented himself with a few contumelious
epithets, which did not hurt me. I flung him
a penny ; this softened his heart. He an-
54 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
swered, after a pause, " I guess you mean
The American blood in me was flattered
by that " I guess." Thus my ancestors must
have spoken here in Sussex long ago, before
they went over in the Mayflower, to fight
in due time at Lexington. It is a point of
honour with all Massachusetts folk to have
gone over in the Mayflozvcr. She was a sloop
of 1 80 tons, and must have carried thousands
of steerage passengers. I am not sure about
the tonnage, but there can be no doubt as to
" They are probably foreigners," I replied,
coming back to this century. "At any rate,
they are new-comers. And I was told they
had settled down somewhere near Pinfold."
He waved his hand vaguely towards the
quarter of the sunrise, and gave me directions
of complicated topography. But he added,
after a moment for internal reflection, " They
bain't the sort o' folk for the likes o' you to
"Thank you," I answered, "I am an
anarchist myself" And I spurred on my
mount, round the corner where he directed
The day, which was brisk when I started,
VIVE L'AN ARCHIE ! |5
had become by this time hot and windless,
and the sun beat mercilessly. After various
intricate twists and turns, ill-deciphered from
uncertain instructions, I found myself at last
by the side of a pond which formed the one
fixed point in my guide's geography. He had
called it " a horse-pond." It was a pretty
little pool : tall glossy weeds grew lush by
its edge ; a grey-leaved willow drooped into
it ; Naiads lurked among the broad green
disks of the water-lilies at its farther end.
I was glad it was so taking. I accepted it as
an omen of success in my wild-goose chase.
From the first I was not without misgivings
of my own wisdom in thus seeking to frater-
nise with unknown anarchist brethren. But
I knew how often fortune brings in some
boats that are not steered ; and I took the
beauty of this " horse-pond " as a foretaste of
what I should find in the anarchist settle-
An old woman, with sleeves tucked up and
the parboiled arms of a laundress, stood near
the door of a new brick cottage hard by.
"Can you tell me," I called out, "where I
can find Rothenburg ? "
I omitted the Mr., as my Cambridge friend
had warned me that that harmless prefix
56 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
acted on your anarchist like the picador's
dart on the bulls of Andalusia.
" Rottenborough ?" the old woman an-
swered, transforming his name, as is the wont
of her class, into something significant in her
own language. " He's down yonder by the
new glass-house." And r]\c pointed with her
hand towards a deep clay 1- -Id just behind
I dismounted, and led my bicj'^cle gently
through the mud. There was no eglantine.
At the far end of the field, under shelter of a
hedge which backed it to the north, I saw a
slender, pale-faced young man in a blue Conti-
nental blouse, digging a trench with a pick,
to whose use he was evidently but little
" Are you Rothenburg ? " I asked, in
He looked up and smiled. My costume
took his fancy. " I am," he answered in the
same language, but with a marked Alsatian
accent. " What do you want with me, com-
" I am an anarchist," I said, simply, rush-
ing straight to the point. " I wish to join
He laid down his pick, and came up out of
' VIVE l'anarchie ! ' 57
the trench. I could see him better now —
a pallid, anaemic young man, with a high
narrow forehead, watery restless eyes, thin
yellow hair, and twitching hands that played
nervously all the time with a shadowy mous-
tache. I judged him at sight the very type of
an eager-hearted ineffectual enthusiast — a man
born to failure as the sparks fly upward.
He looked me over, all surprised. "We
are a party of working men," he objected, at
last ; "artisans, sempstresses, labourers. We
do not desire or court the aid of the bour-
Now, I can endure most things, but not
to be called a bottrgcoisc. I coloured a little,
I suppose ; at any rate, I answered, " I am
an oitvricrc myself. I have nothing to do
with the bourgeoisie. I have ridden down from
London to link my fate with 3'ours. Are
you the head of this colony ? "
He flushed somewhat in turn — or rather,
faint streaks of pink stole over that bloodless
face. "We have no head," he answered.
" We are thorough-going anarchists. Equality
is our aim. Since when do you belong to
our party ? "
" Since I was born," I retorted, boldly.
" 1 am anarchic by nature. Wherever there
58 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
is a government, I am always against it. Let
me join your band — and I promise dis-
He eyed me suspiciously. This confession
of faith seemed rather to disturb than to
reassure him. He paused a moment. " How
did you hear of us ?"
"Casually, in an eating-house in London,
from a Cambridge economist who had been
here to see you. When he spoke of you,
I thought to myself, ' These are the people
I want. I recognise my kind. I must go
and join them.'"
" Ha ! He was a co-operator, A voluntary
co-operator. But he had not the whole truth.
If he sent you here, you may be wrong — you
are perhaps a Marxian ? "
1 perceived that there was an orthodoxy
and a heterodoxy of anarchism ; in which case,
of course, I should be on the heterodox side,
"You will find me sound," I said, seeking to
temporise, " in my uncompromisingly anarchic
anarchism of anarchy." I thought I could
hardly be more mutinous than that. If 'twas
rebellion they wanted, I was honestly pre-
pared to rebel against the rebels.
He drew out a cheap gun-metal watch.
" It is dinner-time," he said, temporising in
VIVE l'anarchie! 59
return. " The comrades will have assembled.
Come up and discuss. We will see whether
they are content to accept you as a com-
I confess I was disappointed. This seemed
painfully close to a legislative assembly — at
the very least to a folk-moot or parish council.
Did they mean to decide things by base show
of hands ? And if so, wherein did your
anarchist differ from the ordinary coercive
governmental authority ?
In the Utopia I had framed for myself,
every man (or woman) did that which was
right in his own eyes — without prejudice
to his equal freedom to do that which was
wrong, if he chanced to be so minded. Here,
I saw just a common joint-stock company —
THE INNER BROTHERHOOD.
We assembled in the large room of the first
cottage I had seen — a sort of bare, bald dining-
hall, big enough to feed some twenty or thirty
souls, and ugly enough to take away their
appetite for ever. Its architect's name, I
would conjecture, was Jeremiah.
"A new comrade," Rothcnburg said, wav-
ing his hand towards me not ungracefully.
"Let us dine first, and consider her after-
This was an awkward introduction. I
sat down to eat and drink, painfully con-
scious that the eyes of anarchic Europe were
upon me. My long unbroken ride had given
me a keen edge for food ; still, apart from
their scrutiny, I confess I eat with an under-
current of disgust. The meat and bread were
wholesome; but I suspected their cleanliness.
The napery, too, was coarse and cried for
the laundress. However, if one chooses to
THE INNER BROTHERHOOD. 6l
herd with anarchists, one must not be too
particular on matters of diet. I eat a hearty
dinner, in spite of my doubts, and even drank
some sour red wine ; for they were not
EngHsh enough yet to relish our beer, of
which I was not sorry.
Replenished by dinner, they drew apart,
discussing me in low tones and in cosmopoli-
tan languages. I fancy I detected the ring
both of Czech and Yiddish — tongues of which
I do not profess an intimate knowledge, though
m}* East-End experiences had given me a
distant nodding acquaintance with either.
Most of them were Austrians (assorted) or
else subjects of the Tsar, living here for their
health, because they preferred England as a
place of residence to that part of the Russian
territory which is called Siberia. From time
to time they appealed to me on some point
of my history — where was I born, of what
nationality, why did I wish to join them ? I
answered as best I might, though the ordeal
was severe. It was bad enough to stand as
Esther before Ahasuerus, but I realised now
that I was set to perform the part of Vashti
before a whole court of critical anarchists.
At last Rothenburg, still fumbling with his
moustache, had the happy thought to ask me
THE TYrE-WRITEU GIRL.
my name. When I said "Juliet Appleton " I
saw that it moved them. The fact that I was
a Juliet gave food to their fancy. Each man
drew himself up and stroked his chin with the
very air of a Romeo. Even the women smiled
— for there were women among them, some
four or five, with pretty curly-haired children.
Then they began to instruct me in the doc-
trines of their sect. I was sworn to eternal
friendship with all and sundry. The intricate
Eleusinian mysteriesof anarchy were explained
to me, as catechumen, in Alsatian French and
Bohemian German. I answered in such dia-
lects of either tongue as I had at command.
Mj' profession of faith appeared to give satis-
faction, especially when, prompted by Rothen-
burg, I renounced Karl Marx and all his ways,
and embraced with fervour the true faith of
Bakunin. Who or what Bakunin was I had
not an idea : but I made up in zeal what I
lacked in understanding.
It began to dawn on me that sectarianism
is of the nature of man, and that all things
tend to fall into my doxy and your doxy.
At last Rothenburg arrived at what he
evidently considered a crucial point in his
catechism. " You understand, of course, that
you must not form an idolatrous attachment
THE INNER DKOTIIEKIIOOD, 63
to any one of the comrades, to the exclusion
of the others ?"
I glanced around me at the dozen sorry
specimens of the male of my species there
ranged before me, and felt convinced at sight
I could safely engage not to idolise exces-
sively any one among them. And I said so.
This assurance appeared to give the com-
munity boundless satisfaction. They turned
next to my bicycle, which was a nice little
machine — the nicest in England, indeed, like
everyone else's. One or two of them were
kind enough to accept my full membership at
once by trying to ride it. I am tolerably tall
for a woman, while the comrades, as I learned
to call them, were for the most part under-
sized town-bred working men, of the skimpy
order. Thus my machine just fitted them ;
they did not even require to shift the pedals.
I showed them how to stick on, correcting the
excessive line of grace in their initial curves :
this obviously pleased them, and I think they
formed a high idea of the new comrade her-
self and more especially of the property she
brought into the Community. They had not
an equal opinion of Mr. Commissioner.
So I settled down at once as a full-fledged
64 THE TYrii-WUITKR GIRL.
Figure to yourself a group ol" nuked cutlages,
vvitli bald slate roofs un tempered by the
years — no moss, no house-leeks — dropped
down at random in a sticky clay cabbage-field
— and you see our colony.
My first business was to behold where I
was to abide. The rotund old lady whom I
had found at the door of the first messuage or
tenement took me round to my cubicle ; for
they had a nomenclature of their own, suited
to the ways of anarchists. 'Twas in a brand-
new building of pale pink brick — a sort of
anaemic brick, which bore the same relation
to healthy red brickiness that Rothcnburg's
complexion bore to normal humanity. It was
vastly modern, like the views of its builders ;
it also betrayed the same painful lack of
aesthetic tendencies. It cried for creepers.
In front of it stretched a patch of utilitarian
potato-ground. I would have preferred holly-
hocks. There was no hall or passage : the
door opened abruptly into a small parlour;
behind lay three bedrooms of the minutest
dimensions. Mine was tiny. However, I
. have always inculcated kindness to animals,
and am not conscious of the faintest desire to
swing a cat ; so it sufficed very well for me.
The bath entailed difficulties, no other anar-
THE INNIiK bKOTIIEKHUOl). 6$
chist being a slave to the liabit: but a wooden
water-tub and economy of space speedily over-
came tliem. I unpacked my knapsack, put my
room to rights, dusted tlie window-panes, and
salhed forth to see what work the Community
demanded oi me.
The Community was ranged outside my
cottage door as one man. It seemed that,
unable to resist the combined attractions of
the bicycle and a new comrade, they had
decreed a half-holiday by universal suffrage,
and were waiting without to let mc teach
them the use of the machine. But the Com-
missioner, who was an unregenerate monopo-
list as to private property, effectually prevented
its premature appropriation by a mute white
I trembled as I saw how many awkward
youths desired to ride my precious cycle.
But if you go in for Communism you must
expect it lo cut both ways. I had eaten their
dinner, they must share my bicycle. P'or so
it is written in the lawless law of anarchy.
Most of these young men were good fel-
lows in their way — very simple-hearted anar-
chists. I do not credit it that they could have
blown up a Tsar, or even dropped a bomb into
a suburban letter-box. They confined them-
66 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
selves to cabbages and passionate denuncia-
tion of the oppressors. But the ringleader
in the attempt to borrow my bicycle from an
absent comrade was an exception to the rule.
He was a villainous-looking creature — the
Caliban of our island. His name was Leon.
I think he must have been built after designs
by Mr. Aubrey Beardsley. He had rufous hair,
a nose without a bridge, and thick protruding
lips. Those lips were a nightmare. I set
him down as a judicious cross between a
Swiss crkin and an albino negro. To make
matters worse, like many other repulsive
people, he had the habit when he spoke
to you of coming up very close and breathing
in your face, so that his protruding lips almost
seemed to touch you. I had an irresistible im-
pulse to say to him, "Take, oh take those lips
away ! " only, I knew if I did he would not
understand ; or if he understood he would
I felt from the outset thai I might have
trouble with Leon.
That first night, for some time, I was kept
awake by a continuous concert, which sorely
puzzled me. It could not be nightingales —
the note was not varied enough ; nor was it
the Six Great Powers of Europe — the chorus
THE INNER BROTHERHOOD. d'J
was far too concordant. It reminded me most
of the serenade made by the small green
southern tree-frogs ; but here, in Sussex ! I
lay awake and racked my brain. Next day
solved the m3'stery. The hollow beyond our
plot of intensive culture was marshy and
weedy, it teemed with natterjacks. I will
own that till I came to Pinfold I wist not
even that the natterjack existed. I had rolled
him into one with his cousin the toad. But
our only British brother, a leather-dresser
from Bermondsey, and a born naturalist, soon
showed me the difference. Ever since I have
met the natterjack in society everywhere.
He is the gentleman and the artist in his own
family. Frogs croak, toads purr, but the
natterjack sings. You will admire his clear
high note, trilled with a delicate tremolo.
At last I fell asleep, a very wearied anar-
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER.
I RESPECTED Rotlienburg ; he was a man of
ideas. Of course, they were wrong ; but,
according to his rush-lights, he acted them out.
He seemed to me to have a shallow brain, m
a constant state of feverish agitation. He was
a flamboyant rhetorician, a crisp denunciator.
It did one's soul good to hear him declaim red-
hot against kings, priests, and the intolerable
tyranny ot public opinion. The rest were
shadows. Rothenburg by comparison was an
Even old Mrs. Pritchard, of the parboiled
arms, who lived in the Community cottage
with the bare, bald hall, recognised his
superiority. " That there Rottenborough,"
she would say, with her arms akimbo, " why
he's worth the whole lot of 'em." She was a
study in her way, Mrs. Pritchard — globular and
emotional. Rothenburg's eloquence filled her
eyes with tears. J^y/iy she was an anarchist
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. 69
I failed to perceiv^c. She seemed as much out
of place in that cosmopolite crew as a Free
Kirk elder in a chorus of Maenads. She told
me they had "convinced" her. If so, she
must have had a mind singularly open to con-
viction. I gather rather that she took to
anarchy as she might have taken to Primi-
tive Methodism, the Salvation Army, or any
other variety of dithyrambic religion. There
chanced to be no Shakers or Mormons in the
field at the moment, so Mrs. Pritchard fell
back upon the allurements of Communism.
She washed for the comrades, a post, you may
guess, which almost amounted to a lady-like
When I joined the Community I did so in
dead earnest. You may think I jest, but I
assure you seriously that my first intention
was to live and die in the bosom of anarchy.
Even the first sight of the ten acres, with its
fringe of natterjacks and its total lack of eg-
lantine, did not damp my ardour ; nor did the
dinner at the outset, I reflected that I had
taught a cookery class at the Guild, and that I
could find an outlet for my energies in radical
reform of the Communal kitchen. It certainly
afforded a noble chance for the reformer.
Meanwhile I said nothing, though I eat every
70 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
meal with an increasing undercurrent of dis-
trust as to its cleanliness.
At night we gathered in the Community hall
and decided the future of Europe. Within, as
without, it had anaemic brick walls, slightly
inclined towards jaundice, and under its roof
we listened drearily while Rothenburg settled
the map of the twentieth century in unofficial
harangues. Save for his torrent of eloquence
1 found the hall depressing. Our Community
shared the common mania of the sectary for
placarding its sentiments. Only here " The
Lord is my Shepherd " and " God Bless our
Home " gave place to " Solidarite de la Race
Hnmaine,'" " No King, no Laws, no Taxes,"
'^ Das Land fur das Volk,'^ " Ubi bene, ibi
Patria,'' and " Free Thought, Free Affection."
I read these legends over and over till they
palled. In another respect also my comrades
resembled the universal schismatic — their
interests were confined to a single range.
They were great on altruism ; but one saw
their eyes glaze over the moment one diverged
from the beaten path of anarchic platitude.
Rothenburg asked me the first day if I knew
anything of gardening. Anything of garden-
ing ! I could have told them at a glance that
their cauliflowers were planted three inches
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. 7 1
too close, while their views on spring carrots
were absur Jly elementary. I had been reared
in the country. But I reflected that, even
among anarchists, modesty befits a woman,
and I answered that I hoped so.
They wished to set me at first upon light
work in the glass-houses ; even those rough
working men, I could see (notable mainly for the
whiteness of their faces and the redness of their
politics), paid some homage to my gentility ;
though they would have denied it themselves,
they were anxious to spare me as much as pos-
sible of manual labour. But I would have none
of that. If I joined their clan at all I must
join on equal terms. I am all for the absolute
equation of the sexes. I wished to bear my
part in the burdens of the Community.
So I devoted myself with a single mind to
intensive culture. I may be dense, but after
close inspection my impression is that in-
tensive culture, were it not for its name,
might readily be confused with ordinary gar-
Rothenburg was working on the founda-
tions of a new glass-house. To avoid Leon,
whose province was potatoes, I took a
pick and worked by the Alsatian's side. He
seldom spoke ; when he did he left off delving
72 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
— his shallow brain had room but for one occu-
pation at a time. It was curious to see him
pause, push his crush-hat from his brow, wipe
his narrow forehead with his shirt-sleeve,
stroke the thin yellow hair, and then give
vent to some deep philosophical speculation,
which a child of ten might have considered
On the second day of my task at the trench
a sudden thought struck me. " Rothenburg," I
said, wielding my pick somewhat viciously,
"you have bought this land; how do you
manage to hold it ? "
He struck work, as usual, and turned the
watery blue eyes upon me.
"We hold it, Juliet," he said — I was
officially known to all the comrades as Juliet
— "we hold it" — he paused as if I were
drawing a tooth — " we hold it by trustees.
No other way is possible."
"The English law compels you?"
" My faith, yes ; we cannot own it as a
"And suppose some comrade were to re-
fuse to work, and yet stick to his rooms.
What could you do to get rid of him ? "
That was a problem for Rothenburg. He
fondled the thin yellow hair till I thought it
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. Tl
would come out ; he fingered the shadowy
moustache with that nervous hand till he
made me frightened.
" I imagine," he said at last, after due
deliberation, in a very slow tone, "we would
be compelled to call in ... . the State
to eject him." He uttered that
hated word with visible effort.
Appello Caesarem ! 1 dug my pick into the
ground more viciously than ever. Uut I said
nothing. Coercive practices ! I saw I was
back with my old friends Aforesaid and This
Yet I will do the anarchists the justice to
say that none of them seemed anxious to
afford their pet bugbear, the State, the oppor-
tunity of trying this test case. They toiled
hard, and inefficiently. In the sweat of their
brow they did very little. None of them
could be called a specialist in gardening.
Rothenburg himself had worked as a lady's
tailor in Paris, he told me, and had flung up
a post of fifty francs a week — " Not bad
wages for a working man," he observed,
preening himself, with the complacency of
a willing martyr — to till the soil with in-
tensive culture. I believe he was really
a good tailor spoiled to make an indifferent
74 THE TVrE-WRITER (JIKL.
gardener. Still, one could not lielp respect-
ing his enthusiasm. When I pressed him
further on this head, he admitted with regret
that in the present state of the world only
a chosen few — "like you and me, Juliet" —
were fit for anarchy. (I felt half inclined to
retort with the last of the Sandcmanians, that
I was "no that sure of Juliet.") However,
he thought it was well to begin the experi-
ment ; after all, one should live up to one's
I glanced around at the sodden field, the
bald brick cottages, and had doubts in my
mind whether they did really fulfil my highest
I worked hard with the rest. A certain
sense of honour made me work my hardest.
Noblesse oblige ; and precisely in proportion
as 1 saw the comrades would be content to
let me shirk some share of my task out of
regard for my gentility, did I feel it incum-
bent upon me to do my utmost possible.
1 wore my cycling suit in the fields, and
laboured like a man. I am not muscularly
strong, but I have been well trained, and
I honestly believe I was the most efficient
workman in all that little group of incom-
petent town toilers.
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. 75
In my spare time I set about reforming
the kitchen. The vegetarian dishes I had
learned at the Guild delighted the souls of
the simple anarchists. My barley cutlets
with tomato sauce were voted " heavenly "
in best lip-licking Teutonic; my vermicelli
shape received the praise of "bravissima"
from our Neapolitan Luigi. This skill in
cookery much increased my vogue among
the men of the Community ; while the women
were not sorry to have their task lightened
by a little amateur assistance.
If I have not said much here of the women
and children 'tis not for want of appreciation :
they were the salt of the settlement. There
was no nonsense of high principles about
them : they had followed their husbands and
fathers and brothers to this outland spot
as women will do ; and they would have
shouted "Vive I'Empereur" as heartily to-
morrow as they shouted " Vive I'Anarchie "
when asked to-day. But they loved to
applaud Rothenburg on the war-path of
peace, and would have scalped anyone who
doubted the truth of the shibboleths of
With the children I made great friends.
Dear rough-and-tumble little things, they
"](•) THE TVPE-WKITER GIRL.
oozed with merriment. My rational dress
delighted them: so did Mr. Commissioner,
with his white teeth, as soon as they had got
over the first formalities. He suffered them
to pull his tail like a lamb. We played
games together at night, in the intervals
of reorganising European affairs and abolish-
ing the capitalist. We romped like tomboys.
My attempts to tell them "Cinderella" and
"The Three Bears," in bad German, trans-
lated by the more knowing into Czech and
Yiddish, were not a complete success ; but
neither were they a failure, for at any rate
they resulted in happy laughter. Besides
I taught them cat's-cradle, and cat's-cradle
at least has escaped the curse of Babel.
Still, rocks lay ahead. My Odyssey was
not so quickly to bring me into port. By
the end of the week a cloud took shape :
1 foresaw storms brewing.
All the comrades were devoted in equal
parts to myself and my bicycle. In the
evenings, when work was done, and we had
watered the cabbages, I gave them lessons
in turn on the mysterious monster. From
the beginning it occurred to me that most of
them were anxious to entice me away from
the common field towards remoter lanes
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. Jf
where occasions for private talk were more
easily obtained. But, mindful of my promise
not to form idolatrous attachments, I resisted
the temptations of the polyglot Fausts who
would fain have discoursed to me the words
of love in many uncouth languages. It was
my policy to keep close to the cottages and
the other women, backed up by that round
mountain of Britannic matronhood, the guile-
less Mrs. Pritchard. Besides, in the Com-
missioner, I had an efficient bodyguard.
On Saturday came the weekly division
of profits. We had done well that week,
having sent consignments of early roses and
asparagus to Guildford and London. We
declared a dividend, a splendid communal
dividend, at the rate of four shillings per
head for adults, and two shillings for children.
I thought this profit magnificent. But just
before the distribution of cash, Rothenburg
strolled up to me, as I was dandling a
r.iottle-armed anarchist. His fingers twitched
on the imperceptible moustache more tremu-
lously than ever. " Juliet," he said, briefly,
" I want to speak to you."
He said it in the voice with which our
Principal at College was wont to summon us
to her study for the discipline of exhortation.
78 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Free anarchist though I was, I listened and
"Well, Rothenburg? " I murmured, laying
down the baby.
" The question is, do you mean to remain
with us ? "
" Why, certainly," I cried, astonished.
"Did we not swear eternal friendship?"
"But — the comrades complain that you
take no notice of them."
" No notice ! Absurd ! Why, I have
taught them how to bicycle."
"Yes ; but that is not everything. Friends
should show friendliness. You hold them at
arm's length. You keep yourself aloof. You
have no camaraderie.^^
I looked him hard in the face. He blinked
his watery eyes. I knew he was sincere — a
good, honest anarchist ; but he expected too
much of me. " Rothenburg," I said firmly,
" I call this coercion."
" No, no ; not coercion ; but comrades
ought to be sociable."
" 'Tis intolerable ! " I exclaimed. " What
is anarchy for, if we are each to be forced
into talking to one another against our wills ?
I have donemy week's work ; I have cooked you
good food ; I have lent you my bicycle ; and still
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. 79
you complain of me. The Banded Despots** —
which was our technical phrase, to wit, for
the British Government — "could not do worse
than that, nor as bad as that either. They
do not insist that one should make oneself
agreeable. They are amply satisfied if man
pays man's taxes."
He twirled the non-existent moustache till
he put a visible point on it. His fingers
twitched painfully. " I only tell you what
the comrades are saying," he replied, in a
deprecatory way. " They find that you do
not behave to them like a sister. In one word,
they think that you give yourself the airs of
a superior person. You pose as an aristo.
They believed when you came that you would
amalgamate freely with us. We want no
women who decline to fraternise."
This was too much for my temper. I broke
into open mutiny. "I shall resign," I cried.
"You are bringing to bear against me the
intolerable tyranny of public opinion. I shall
go back to the freedom and comfort of the
His jaw dropped at this resolve. His eye
glanced feelingly sideways towards the bicycle.
For a moment I feared Commissioner Lin
would pin him. " No, no," he cried. "You
80 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
must not do that. We all like and respect
you. We wish you to remain. But we wish
you to be a sister. Give me time to consider
— to communicate with the comrades."
" Not one moment," I answered, hardly
liking this turn. " Hand me over my money,
and let me go ! I have worked for a week,
and the labourer is worthy at least of his
travelling expenses. I return to London."
He hurried back to the group who hung
about the door of the Community cottage,
and spoke to them in low^ tones. Then he
came again as envoy. " All the comrades
say, if j'ou will reconsider your decision, they
v/ill no longer insist upon your altering your
" I will not reconsider it/' I replied, grow-
ing really frightened, for I caught Leon's eye.
" I go at once. Give nie my money, and let
me return to the world I came from."
They debated again. Commissioner Lin
watched the case in my interest. Then one
of the others approached. It was Leon —
Caliban — the man with the protruding lips.
I had my hand on my bicycle, and was ready
to mount it.
"This machine is ours," he said calmly,
putting his face close to mine. " Whatever
A MUTINOUS MUTINEER. 8 1
any comrade brings into the Community is
common property. We will give you your
dividend and let you go; but this you must
leave with us."
My blood was up. The old Eve within
me was roused. The American eagle in my
heart flapped its wings. I remembered how
my fathers had fought at Lexington (they
were quite a property to mc). "Sir," I
exclaimed, in my most commanding voice,
"you shall not touch my machine. If you
venture to detain it " — I tried to remember
the worst phrases I had learnt at Flor and
Fingelman's — "I will move for a mandamus
to compel you to show cause why you should
escape the penalties of praemunire." What
it all meant I do not know ; but I am sure
the effect upon Caliban's mind was most salu-
tary. I have ever since had a vastly increased
respect for the law of England.
They conferred again for a few minutes,
with one e3'e on the Commissioner. Then
Rothenburg came forward once more as
spokesman. "Will you try it again for one
week?" he asked in a really grieved voice.
" We shall be sorry to lose you."
"Not for one day!" I answered, a furtive
gleam in Commissioner Lin's eye lending me
82 THE TYI'K-WRITER C.UiL.
courage. " Give me what I have earned, and
let mc go ! " I asked for it with the greater
confidence because I felt sure in my own
mind I had done more effective work in the
week than any of them.
They paid me, murmuring. I retired to
my cubicle, packed my knapsack in haste,
returned to my machine, and laid my hand on
it firmly. But within I was trembling like
an Italian greyhound. Then I jumped into
the saddle, and waved my hand to my sworn
brothers, with an affectation of courage.
" Messieurs," I said — and to call them
" messieurs " was to excommunicate myself,
to deny camaraderie — " Messieurs, you are a
mass of conventions. 1 wish you the very
good morning. Your rules are too stringent
for me. I cannot away with them. I find
myself tco individual, too anarchic for the
anarchists ! "
Then I waved my hand again, and set my
face sternly towards civilisation, despotism,
and the flesh-pots of Egypt.
I was weary of dissent, and longed for the
catholic church of humanity. I must go back
to London, and be once more a type-writer.
CALLED "OF ACCIDENTS."
For the first three or four miles I kept on
pedalling steadily. I grazed the corners, not
even daring to look back, for I was haunted
by a terror that Loon, with his lips, was on
the track behind me. But I heard only the
cries of the anarchist babies, calling to their
playmate to come back in Czech and Yiddish.
When I had escaped from the intricate
tangle of Sussex lanes, and found myself once
more on the Queen's highway of England,
under the protecting aegis of Britannia's
shield (in spite of the blood of the Pilgrim
Fathers), I paused to reflect upon the week's
A bicycle in full swing, I maintain, is not
an ideal place for calm reflection. Hence the
face of the bicyclist. Moreover, I had started
without due attention to my screws, in my
eagerness to escape from my sworn brothers,
the anarchists, into the open air of Banded
84 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Despotism. So I called a halt, and dis-
mounted for a moment to tighten my loose
joints, metaphorically and literally. My
knees still trembled under me, and the
wraith of Caliban, panting ever in the
rear, still pursed its thick lips in my face
to mock me. I felt like Pliable when he
abandoned Christian at the outset of his
pilgrimage, and siank back from the first
slough to the City of Destruction. For, in
the background of my heart, I still loved
and admired these simple earnest souls,
eager after their kind to right human wrong,
and to attain human perfection. I saw their
comic side ; but 1 saw also that the root of
the matter was in them. They had noble
enthusiasms — all save Caliban; he was
the serpent in that ten-acred Eden. When
I got under weigh again, at a good easy
pace, beneath rifts of blue through white
summer cloud, I began to be aware that my
first fortnight of free life had culminated
in two distinct and acknowledged failures.
I had failed to accommodate myself to the
environment at Flor and Fingelman's ; I had
failed to accommodate myself to the public
opinion of the anarchists at Pinfold. Environ-
ment was triumphing all along the line. I
CALLED "OF ACCIDENTS." 85
telt constrained to regard myself as one of the
unfittest, who do not survive, and whom no
Resolving myself into Committee of Finance,
I found I had been acting with reckless ex-
travagance. Cash in hand amounted to four
and sevenpence — of which sum, four shillings
represented my week's earnings, and seven-
pence my balance from the bounty of St.
Nicholas, after settling for tw^o weeks' rent
in London, with sundry expenses. It occurred
to me now (too late) that I had practically
been paying twice over for lodging — once in
London by cash, and once at the Community
by giving my labour in return for a mere box
of a cubicle. I felt so proud of this discovery
in economics, hov/ever, that I was almost in-
clined to condone the error for the sake of its
detection. In other ways, also, I was demon-
strably worse off than w^hen I started. I had
worn my pretty brown cycling suit for a week
in the stiff clay fields, not to mention the fact
that I had splashed it with mud in the vica-
rious effort to rectify the lines of grace in
my comrades' riding ; and I had done my
tyres no good on the rough roads of Sussex.
Altogether, I was forced to confess to myself
with shame that I returned to London after
86 THE TVrE-WRITER GIRL.
this escapade not only a wiser, but a poorer
To crown all, I had no longer the use of my
type-writer. The thirty pieces of silver for
which I had betrayed my entire stock-in-trade,
the instrument of production, were spent and
lost to me. St. Nicholas had proved but a
broken reed. I had leaned upon him, and
he had pierced my hand. Never again should
I trust the hypocritical smile on the face
of that bland and benignant impostor !
1 pedalled on at half-speed. Little vocalists,
ignorant of the name of Mendelssohn, carolled
songs without words in the sky overhead :
but my heart was heavy.
Yet, after all, I had had my amusement, and
bought my experience.
A pheasant screamed ; I mistook it for Cali-
ban. Mr. Commissioner looked up in my
face and sympathised.
It was still early afternoon ; for Saturday
was a half-holiday : we had struck work at
noon, and dined, before proceeding to the
division of profits. June was almost come,
and the days were lengthening. I hoped to
reach London long before the hour at which
the Banded Despots compel us to light our
red lamps in the public interest.
CALLED "OF ACCIDENTS." 87
Yet I was so delighted to have flung off
the yoke of anarchy that I could have fallen
on the neck of a Banded Despot, had he
appeared at that moment, were it but in the
guise of a Sussex County Constable. The
country smiled : if eglantine be sweet-briar, it
bordered the road; if honeysuckle, it scented
the cottage porches.
I rode on and on, glad to be free once more,
though sorry to be poor, and doubtful where
I could turn for the next few days' board and
lodging. The words of the anarchist alpha-
bet, which I had learned from the one British
brother at Pinfold, recurred strongly to my
" F is the freedom that old England brags about ;
If you haven't got a dinner — why — you're free to
go without. '
I felt sure I might soon taste that common
privilege secured to all of us by Magna
In this mood I coasted recklessly down a
slight hill near Holmwood, with my feet on
the rest, and my hands too incautiously re-
moved from the handle-bar. Behind me lay
the Weald ; in front rose the trenchant ram-
part of the North Downs.
At the foot of the slope was a sudden turn.
88 THE TYPE-WRITKR CIRI..
As I reached the bottom my hand gri})ped the
break — too late. I was aware of a Foreign
Body, rushing eagerly round the curve, with
flying fair hair ; next, of a considerable im-
pact ; then, of myself on the road, sprawling,
and the Foreign Body with the fair hair
wringing its hands beside me.
She was a woman, fortunately.
I raised myself with dignity. It is always
a good plan, in case of collision, to take the
aggressive first. " You came round that cor-
ner rather fast, considering how sharp it is,"
I observed in a coldly cri*-ical tone, who^e
effect was perhaps rather marred by the fact
that my fingers were torn and bleeding. This
was sheer bluff, and I knew it.
"Oh, I beg your pardon!" she cried, clap-
ping her hands to her ears in an agonised
little paroxysm. I saw that she was slight
and fair and evidently frightened : a wisp of
a figure, a fluff of amber hair, blue eyes like
" It was a nasty spill," I went on, growing
severer in proportion as I realised that mj'
antagonist was little inclined to defend her-
self (which was a meanness on my part).
" You should slow round corners. I hope
you have not hurt yourself."
CALLED "OF ACCIDENTS." 89
She set to cry all at once. "A little," she
answered. " Or rather, a great deal."
She was a timid small atom}'. I began to
regret my hasty sternness, the more so as
I knew I was at least as much to blame as
she, for I had run down the hill without
my fingers on the break, and had trusted to
chance at the turn of the corner. All this
too, I admit, with a wheel that had already
been badly buckled.
Happily, Commissioner Lin did not take it
into his head to seize her.
I tried to console her. Then I turned to
my machine. Which shows that I am a
woman first and a cyclist afterwards ; for I
notice that your born cyclist looks first at her
wheels, and only proceeds in the second place
to enquire which of her limbs is broken.
When I saw its condition, I recognised at
once that my cup was full. All, all was lost.
The front wheel was twisted out of human
recognition; the tyre was punctured; I saw
seven-and-sixpence worth of repairs staring
me full in the face before I could fall back
upon my base of operations in London.
I blush to confess it ; but I followed her
exampl •. Lexington faded away. I burst
into tear, outright, and sank down on the
90 THE TVPE-WRITKU GIUL.
ground by my broken cycle. I suppose the
spill had shattered my nerves. Mr. Commis-
sioner squatted on his haunches and stared
How long we might have sat there, ming-
ling tears together, it were hard to say — had
not St. George come by, in the nick of time,
sword in hand, to rescue us.
He was not mounted as usual on his milk-
white steed, but more prosaically seated on
the box of a dog-cart. Yet what matters
that ? A cavalier is a cavalier, be he horseman
or gigman. The knights who ride in all
their pride around the frieze of the Par-
thenon are only knights in virtue of their pos-
session of the noble quadruped platonically
adored by the Grand Vizier and his satraps.
So I knew it was a St. George, though in
place of a lance he had a lancet in his instru-
ment case. To unimaginative eyes he was
the village doctor.
He pulled up his horse by the roadside,
and called out to us cheerily : " Anything
wrong ? Can I be of use to you ? "
"Not for me," I broke out, fearing he
would want to dress my wounds and be
paid for it ; "I am not hurt at all. About
this lady I do not know. She cannoned
CALLED " OF ACCIDENTS." QI
against me, and somebody seems to have
St. George dismounted — if one can dis-
mount from a dog-cart — a genial giant. He
looked at my hands, which were torn and
bleeding, and ingrained with sand and dirt
from the road. " Excuse me," he said,
gravely; "this is worse than yow chink.
You have had a nasty wrench. And, be-
sides, the soil contains "
"I know all that," I answered. "The
germs of lockjaw. I have gone through an
ambulance course, and iiclped the trained
nurse at an East-End Settlement. Well,
the germs must take their chance. Tetanus
microbes have' a right to live like the rest of
us, I suppose."
My manner was perhaps defiant. He
smiled, not unkindly, a boundless Pacific of
a smile : his ears alone checked it. " Ha !
an anarchist ? " he enquired, glancing back
in the direction whence I had come.
" Yes," I answered. " From Pinfold."
"Tired of it ? "
" Very much so. I am on my way back to
London and the Banded Despots."
He smiled again. " You must let me
dress your hand," he said, persuasively.
92 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
I drew back in alarm. "Oh, no ! " I cried,
for I had nothing to pay him with.
" Nonsense," he went on with kind per-
sistence, divining my thought in the hot flush
that came over me. " This is not a profes-
sional matter. A mere passing courtesy to a
lady in distress. Let me drive you to my
surgery, and then on to Holmwood Station.
You won't be able to get those machines
mended so as to return to town to-night. I
can pack them both in. And your friend will
come with you."
There was no resisting the frank kindliness
of his big genial smile. He was broad-
shouldered and large-hearted, with a face to
match. I clambered up into the dog-cart, and
the fair girl sat behind. How he annihilated
space so as to pack in the bicycles as well I
have no idea. But the age of miracles is not
past, nor yet the age of chivalry. St. George
convinced me that both still exist. At a
moment of despair, he revived my waning
belief in human nature.
At the surgery, he washed my bleeding
hands tenderly, spread an antiseptic ointment
and a cool rag on top, and bound it all up
with womanly solicitude. As a faint protest,
I murmured at the end : " How much am I
CALLED " OF ACCIDENTS." 93
in your debt ? " But he smiled his expansive
smile, and repeated, " Nothing, nothing ! "
Then he examined the fair girl, who was the
exact counterpart of Michaela in the opera,
and pronounced her sound in wind and
limb, though nervously shaken. Michaela
wept at learning she was not hurt; she would
have fainted, I think, if he had told her she
When our wounds had been assuaged, he
drove us down to the station. On the way,
Michaela grew gradually calm enough to
communicate her misfortunes. " I want to get
to Leith Hill," she said. "I was going there
when I was so unlucky as to upset this lady."
(My heart pricked me, but I refrained from
" Leith Hill ! " St. George cried, with his
hearty great laugh. "Why, you are five
miles out for it ! You have taken the wrong
road. You were straight on the way to
Horsham when I met you."
"Oh, I was afraid of that," Michaela ex-
claimed, beginning to cry again ; she had a
genius for tears that might have been utilised
with advantage for purposes of irrigation.
" I — I was cycling with a gentleman."
" Indeed ? " I put in coldly.
94 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
"But I — I am engaged to him."
"Of course," I answered. Having left
anarchy and all its works nine miles behind
me, I affected to believe no young lady could
be bicycling with a man unless he were en-
gaged to her.
" And we kept together as far as Dorking."
Michaela went on ; " but there I stopped to
speak to some friends I met by chance in the
street, and my — my escort went round the
corner to buy some cigarettes ; and when I
hurried on again to catch him up, I could not
discover him ; and I'm afraid I must go back
alone to London." She spoke as though
London were in the heart of Africa.
The doctor laughed. "You took quite the
wrong turn," he said. " Or rather, you kept
straight on, when you should have swerved
to the right. That unhappy young man must
be seeking you now, on the summit of Leith
Hill, with many qualms of conscience."
" Do you think so ? " Michaela cried,
wringing her hands once more. She was a
study in helplessness. I could feel she was
rich, brought up in cotton-wool, and for her
sake I was glad of it ; for I wondered what
she would do if she should ever find herself
face to face with real misfortune.
I PLAY CARMEN.
St. George joined tact to his chivalry.
When we pulled up at the station, he handed
us both out, unloaded our iron steeds, raised
his hat with an amicable smile, and then,
before we had time to thank him, cracked a
merry whip, and drove away hurriedly. My
bandaged condition forbade me even to grasp
his hapd ; he vanished into the past, and was
once more a phantom. I never saw him
again. Yet I have always been grateful to
that brief vision of a knight who saved me
for one moment from a passing dragon. If
peradventure he happen to read these words,
will he accept my thanks for it ?
On the platform, as Chancellor of my own
Exchequer, I had time to bring in my private
budget. It showed an obvious deficit. Had
I been Leader of the Opposition, I could have
risen with scorn from the front bench, and
subjected it to a scathing — nay, a crushing
96 THE TvrE-WRITER GIRL.
criticism. In plain words, I saw that I had
not money enough to pay my way back to
London, to take a dog-ticket for the Com-
missioner, and also to carry my bicycle with
me (zone 50, one shilling.) This collision
had proved even more disastrous to my
finances than to my hands. Two courses
were now open to me. I must cloak-room
my machine — with little chance of redeeming
it — or else resolve to spend the residue of
my days at Holmwood.
The latter alternative being the more
original of the two, naturally I made up my
mind to adopt it. I felt so poor and desolate
that I looked for the police to step in and
"I won't go up to town," I said curtly to
Michaela. " I will spend the night here."
I said " the night " only, instead of " my
life," lest she should suspect me of exaggera-
To my vast surprise, this resolution, which
I fancied of no importance to anyone save
myself, threw my companion into a tremor of
anxiety. "Then I can't go either," she cried,
wetting her lips with fear. " If you stop, /
must stop with you, and telegraph up for my
I PLAY CARMEN. 97
I Stared at her in astonishment. " Why
so ? " I asked at last.
" Why, because — because of this dreadful
"What murder?" I inquired, reverting
instinctively to Leon and his lips.
She stared in turn. " You must have heard
of it," she exclaimed. " It has been in all the
I remembered that at Pinfold we had been
too much absorbed by the future of Europe
and the affair of the new glass-house ever to
trouble our minds about what chanced to be
happening in the mere provincial world of
London. So I assured her I knew naught
She went on to explain to me that a woman
had been found killed in a first-class carriage
— stabbed to the heart, and stuffed under
the seat — only three days before,
"I dare not travel alone," she said, clasp-
ing her hands and opening her blue eyes
wide. " Do please come with me."
This forced me to explain my financial
position. My new friend declared that that
did not matter. Might she lend me a sove-
reign ? A sovereign ! I gasped at the idea
of such wealth. But I had further to make
98 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
it clear that my chance of repaying it was a
She listened to my explanation with open-
mouthed astonishment. I think she had never
heard of such poverty before — in one of her
own sort — though to me it was commonplace.
" But you must let me lend it to you," she
said, drawing out the daintiest little lizard-
skin purse I have ever seen ; " or, rather, you
must let me pay you for the harm I have
done to your bicycle, and the difficulty I have
brought upon you. That is only fair. I
ought to settle for your ticket up to town,
and for the mending."
I was compelled to confess. My duplicity
had failed. " It was more my fault than
yours," I faltered out. " I was reckless in
my pace. You were mounting a slight rise,
with the wind against you : I was descending,
and had it in my favour. If anybody is to
blame, it is I. Pray, pray, forgive me."
She insisted in spite of me. " I shall take
two first-class tickets."
My democratic gorge rose. " Never ! " I
cried firmly. " St. Nicholas forfend ! Not
in my palmiest and most unregenerate days
did I travel first-class. If you consent
to take two thirds, I will owe you for the
I PLAY CARMEN. 99
amount. You can give me your address ; and
whenever I am rich enough I will repay you all.
I have sufficient of my own to buy a ticket
for my dog and bicycle." It went against the
grain with me to receive this favour from a
stranger unseen till to-day ; but I recognised
that there was no help for it.
She took the tickets under protest. " Such
dreadful people travel third — drunken soldiers
and sailors ! "
" Brave defenders of our country ! " I an-
swered, remembering my father's profession.
" It's Thank you, Mr. Atkins, when the band
bepfins to play."
The liquid blue eyes stared at me in blank
amazement. Rudyard Kipling, one could see,
was a sealed book to her. I think she had
doubts of my perfect sanity. Perhaps you
We arranged for our maimed mounts. I
hold it one of the best points of a bicycle, as
compared with the noble animal, that it con-
siderately refrains from wringing your heart
in the matter of sympathy. It has no nerves.
The train panted into the station. We ex-
plored an empty carriage, free from the con-
tamination of soldiers and sailors, drunk or
sober, and started off comfortably.
ICX) THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Michaela took the precaution to peer under
the seats beforehand. I am not sure which
of the two she expected to find — a corpse or
"This is nice," she said at last, smiling,
and recovering her spirits for the first time
since the collision. " We shall have the
carriage to ourselves all the way to Victoria.
I gave the guard half-a-crown. I couldnt
travel with a man. I should be quite too
Some devil entered into me. I am subject
to devils. My new acquaintance was so in-
sipidly fair, so mediaevally shrinking, while
I am dark and modern, that 1 had an irre-
sistible impulse to play Carmen to her
Michaela. " Have you reflected," I said drily,
" that a woman may have committed that
murder ? "
It was heartless of me, I admit. My little
companion was so timid and shrinking. But
the bolt fell flat. She clasped her hands and
looked at me. " I never thought of that ! "
she said. " How dreadfully clever you must
be to discover it. Dreadful as well as clever!
But I am sure you are not a murderess." (She
had a trick of emphasising one word in each
sentence.) "You are a great deal too nice.
I PLAY CARMEN, 101
You behaved so sweetly about the ticket, you
know, and the accident ! Anyone else in
your place would have pretended it was my
fault, and made me pay for the damages."
"That was only common honesty," I
objected. " Murderers need not be deficient
in common honesty."
" Oh, but they must be awful people! "
"Murderers are not a class," said I. "They
are you and me, acting under pressure of
She glanced at me, more amazed than fright-
ened. " I knozv you would not murder me,"
she replied, less alarmed than I might have
expected. "You are so kind, though you are
so queer. I feel quite safe in your hands.
With those honest eyes I am certain you
would not hurt me."
I could have crept under the seat, I felt
such a brute. I took her two small hands in
my bandaged palms. "You dear little thing ! "
I exclaimed, " nobody could ever hurt you ! "
Then seven other devils entered into me again,
worse than the first ones, and I could not help
adding, " Though if I wanted to murder, this
is a unique opportunit}'. My bleeding hands,
and the evidence about the bicycle accident
would suffice to account for any number of
I02 THE TYPE-VVKITEK GIRL.
blood-Stains. Still, to stuff you under the seat
would be bad taste and vulgar."
She caught my eye, and laughed. " What
a funny girl it is ! " she cried. "You arc so
comical ! But it isn't the least use your trying
to frighten me. I can see the twinkle in your
big black eyes ; and I like you in spite of your
trying to be horrid. Do you know, I liked
you from the first moment I saw you."
'Twas impossible not to be taken by such
charming childishness. She cooed so pret-
tily one was forced to love her. Before we
reached Victoria we were fast friends. Michaela
thought me the queerest person she had ever
met, but, oh, so nice ! Her tongue was
loosed. She told me a great deal about what
a dear fellow she was engaged to. She spoke
of him as Toto. She also wanted to lend me
a pound. But I sternly refused. I must work
out my own salvation in fear and trembling.
(This Biblical trick descends to me, no doubt,
from the Pilgrim Fathers.)
Michaela gave me her card at Clapham
Junction — "Miss Allardyce" it said — and
begged me to call upon her. I was driven
to explain that in the rank of life to which
I now belonged people did not call upon one
another; more particularly that the Jews of
I PLAY CARMEN. IO3
Onslow Gardens (I am dropping into it again)
had no dealings with the Soho Samaritans.
Michaela dissented from this finding : her posi-
tion was that " a lady was a lady." I granted
the truth of that identical proposition, but flatly
disallowed that all ladies had time for calling.
I also pointed out that my first consideration
was bread, which brought tears again into her
tender blue eyes. We parted the best of
friends. We even kissed one another, though
I am an infrequent kisser. She thanked me
mightily for my company, which made me feel
small again. For I had upset her nerves,
broken her machine, and borrowed some shil-
lings, which I scarcely dared to hope I might
have the luck to repay her.
However, I took her address, and added one
small square to the mosaic design with which
I am paving my possible future residence.
SIC ME SERVAVIT APOLLO !
Perhaps you think I have made too much of
those ancestors of mine who fought and bled
at Lexington. That is always possible ;
if so, on further thought, you will feel that
there are excuses for me. My ancestors be-
queathed me nothing save the memory of
their courage. Had I inherited from them an
estate in Middlesex, or even in Massachusetts,
I might dwell less on their valour. But since
they have left me heiress of their glory alone,
'tis natural that I should magnify the one
legacy I have received from them. To deprive
me of that pittance were to leave me poor
indeed. Let me salve my indigence with the
honour of the family.
And, in truth, when I got back to my rooms
in Soho, I stood in need of every ghost among
my ancestral warriors. All the dragons in
London flapped wings together in that narrow
SIC ME SERVAVIT APOLLO ! I05
Picture my position. I had no money in
hand, and no machine to work upon. Besides,
with my maimed fingers, it would be im-
possible for me to type-write for three days
at least. I had no prospect of food till my
wounds recovered. Even then, much must
depend upon the chance of an engagement ;
and for record of my " last place " what had
I but my mocking letter to This Indenture
Must I fall back on the aunt, with her black
thread gloves and her Zenana Missions ? I
glanced at Commissioner Lin ; no, a bone,
and freedom !
However, petty troubles are the mustard of
life: they add pungency. Besides, we are
all Cinderellas with a fairy godmother. Her
name is Aide-toi-et-Dieu-t*aidera. I have
never failed to find much efficacy in Citizen
Danton's prescription. In hopeless circum-
stances cur three best allies are audacity?
audacity, and again audacity.
I made up my mind to be audacious. I
have big black eyes, as Michaela had truly
observed, so audacity comes easily to me ;
celestial blue is always shrinking. I p^^esented
myself at the door of my lodgings with the air
of one who had merely gone away for a few
I06 THE TVPE-WRITER GIRL.
days* bicycling trip, and had thousands at her
banker's. I think my jauntiness impressed
the landlady. I spoke in vague terms of "a
tour in Sussex," and of its premature close
through the accident of a collision. Item, the
knees of my knickerbockers had distinctly
suffered. However, as I had paid a fort-
night's rent before 1 left, out of St. Nicholas's
benefaction, and had been away for a week
and a day, besides four days more or less
spent at Hor and Fingelman's, I was still
entitled to two clear nights' lodging. If the
worst came, I might even stop on for another
week without paying. The mere fact of my
return was a guarantee of "respectability,"
which, in the lodging-house acceptation, is a
synonym for probable continuous solvency.
I commanded supper with my lordliest air.
My landlady was too much taken aback to
refuse me. I suggested a chop, as though
chops grew wild. She acquiesced without a
I have remarked already that I belong to a
generation which has analysed conscience
away. But I am sorry to say analysis is not
really one with annihilation. Conscience re-
sembles nature in that, when driven out with
a pitchfork, it recurs in spite of you. My
SIC ME SERVAVIT APOLLO ! 10/
enjoyment of that excellent chump chop —
grilled brown to a turn — was sadly interfered
with by the floating fear that I might never
be able to pay for it. I had painful qualms.
Had my landlady been rich, I might have
swallowed them with the chop : but she was
a reduced widow with one invalid daughter.
Conscience, however, though it makes
cowards of us all, does not (within my ex-
perience) produce insomnia. I slept the
sleep of the just, and woke up an Aniaeus, or
rather an Anta^a. (This remark 1 offer as a
contribution to the unsolved problem whether
or not I have been to Girton.)
The sun was shining. The thrushes (at
the bird fancier's opposite) were bent on
justifying Browning, by singing twice over
each careless leit-motiv. I ordered breakfast
with an undaunted face, like Leonidas at
Thermopylae. The landlady, completely sub-
dued, brought up coffee and rolls as if I had
been a duchess. I almost soared to an Qgg ;
as the word hung on my lips, conscience
stepped in with " Necessaries, yes ; but
luxuries — that were an infamy." I forewent
the egg, though my long ride had bv gotten
in me a noble hunger. And I rather flatter
myself that in saying " forewent " I am en-
I08 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
riching the language with a new preterite.
Oxford Dictionary, please copy.
Breakfast inspired me with fresh hope.
There is much virtue in a breakfast. I began
to surmise that I might have misjudged St.
Nicholas. Not the bland old bishop of the
National Gallery — he was a humbug, I felt
sure — but that charming young benefactor
in Fra Angelico's panel ; could he be equally
untrustworthy, and with so innocent a face ?
I, for one, could scarce credit it. He
seemed like the masculine counterpart of
Michaela. And Michaela was too mild not
to be really guileless.
At least, I would stroll round to the Strand
and seek another interview with the holy
man. For the next two days it were futile
to hunt for work. Those bandaged hands
must tell against me. So perforce I took
On Monday morning I sallied forth. I
wore my little black dress and hat, in which,
even to myself, I looked absurdly proper.
I love trudging down the Strand. It may
sound ungrateful to confess it, after the pains
that have been taken to make London ugly
for us, but I find a weird charm in its pic-
turesque ugliness. When I reached the win-
SIC ME SERVAVIT APOLLO ! IO9
dow of which I was in search, a sudden thrill
ran through me. It seemed as though I had
suffered some personal loss. My patron
saint had disappeared ! Not a trace of St.
If the embalmed body of the holy bishop
had been missing from the shrine where it
lies at Bari, still exuding manna, I could not
have been more disconcerted. In my sur-
prise and alarm I even ventured into the
shop. "The little Fra Angelico," I cried,
" in the window — what has become of it ?"
My anxious manner made the astute pro-
prietor scent a possible purchaser. " Put up
to auction to-day," he answered. " You must
be quick if you want it."
" Where ? "
He mentioned a firm of picture-dealers in
I know not what possessed me — unless it
were the fairy godmother — but I hurried off
to the sale-rooms. I had never attended an
auction before, yet I wedged my way to the
front with the assured air of a buyer.
I was only just in time. My patron saint
was in the hands of the slave-dealer, who ex-
patiated, after- the usual fashion of slave-
dealers, on his chattel's youth; simplicity,
no THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
and beauty. He also called attention to the
innocence and charm of the three sleeping
maidens. His language was florid. I could
not help wondering whether, from some calm
cell in the heavenly monastery overhead, the
angelic friar looked down with a pitying
smile on this vicissitude of his handicraft.
How lovingly he laid on his cinnabar and his
cobalt ! He painted that picture with holy
joy for some dim niche in a Florentine
nunnery ; could he have foreseen how it
would be bandied about, with unsympathetic
remarks as to its drawing and colouring,
in the unsanctified hands of far northern
It was hateful to behold that lovely youth,
with his long fair hair and his delicate trunk-
hose, held up for competition to the highest
bidder. The desecration sickened me. There
he stood on tip-toe, his back half-turned to
us, with his three purses of gold, a rich and
noble saint, yet not wealthy enough to re-
deem himself from such last dishonour ! Oh,
strange craft of the brush which could so give
life to a dead thing that, ages after its
fashioner had mouldered into dust, my heart
still went forth to it as to a living lover!
Men began to bid for St. Nicholas. Thirty,
SIC ME SERVAVIT APOLLO ! Ill
forty, fifty, sixty guineas ; seventy guineas
for the saint ; slower, slower, slower.
At last the auctioneer reached a hundred.
Then came a long pause. I could not bear to
think that that coarse-looking dealer with the
vulgar laugh — fat, sleek, materialised — should
possess my patron. A young man with a
sweet voice (on whose forehead I seemed to
see the red star of St. Dominic) had bid up to
ninety-five. How I hoped he would con-
tinue ! But he was silent at the hundred. I
could no longer contain myself. The fairy
godmother at my elbow impelled me. With
an effort I gasped out, " A hundred and
five ! " — ^just to keep up the bidding.
"Going at a hundred and five! A hundred
and five guineas ! A genuine Fra Angelico !
This exquisite work ! So small a price !
Does no other gentleman offer ?" He made
a dramatic pause. Then down came the
hammer. " The lady has it."
In a second it rushed over me what I had
done. 1 gasped in my embarrassment. A
clerk drew near and murmured something
inaudible about "conditions of sale." Through
a mist of words I caught faint echoes of
" Five per cent, at once, and the balance
112 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
My face was fiery red. I had dim dreams
of prison. The youn^^ man with the sweet
voice stole quietly up to me.
"Excuse me," he said, in my ear; "one
moment, before you complete this purchase.
I want that picture. IVill you take five
guineas for your bargain ? "
" Five guineas ? " 1 cried, aghast. " For a
picture worth more than a hundred."
"You misunderstand me," he corrected.
" I want that work very much — though I
doubt its authenticity : I believe it to be only
a contemporary replica. However, if you
cede it to me, I will pay the money down
and give you five guineas over. I did not
care to go on bidding further agamst the
dealer; he was running up the price: but I will
buy it from you. Do you accept my offer?"
Sic me servavit Apollo ! Thus St. Nicholas
saved me ! I repented of my distrust, Twice
was he tried at a pinch, and twice not found
In a haze, I assented. The stranger paid
me the money, which I handed over to the
clerk, less my own profit. Then I went
forth into the street, a rich woman once
more, with an almost inexhaustible capital
of five guineas.
SIC ME SERVAVIT APOLLO I
Was it St. Nicholas, I wonder, or the fairy
The question is important, from the doc-
trinal point of view, for it involves the con-
flict between the faith and paganism.
But my own opinion is that the young man
with the star of Dominic on his brow was
St. Nicholas himself, come down to earth yet
another time with a purse of five guineas for
a maiden's dower. So have I seen him more
than once descending from solid clouds, in
ex voto's in Italy.
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON.
" This story," you say, " is deficient in love-
My dear critic, has anybody more reason
to regret that fact than its author ? I have
felt it all along. Yet reflect upon the cir-
cumstances. Ten thousand type-writer girls
crowd London to-day, and 'tis precisely in
this that their life is deficient — love-interest.
Remember, I am only telling you my own
poor little story ; and I am but an amateur
story-teller. The professional novelist keeps
in stock in her study a large number of vats,
each marked (like drinks in a refreshment-
room) with the names of their contents in gilt
letters — " Sensation," " Character-sketches,"
" Humour," and so forth. She turns on the
taps mechanically as they are needed. But
by far the biggest vat is labelled " Love-
interest." No matter what plot the pro-
fessional novelist may invent, she lets this
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON.
tap run, as soon as her puppets are devised,
and drenches the whole work with an amatory
solvent, exactly as the chemist dilutes his
mixtures with distilled water to eight ounces.
I, however, who am narrating to you the
actual history of one stray girl among ten
thousand in London, — what can I do but
wait for the love-interest to develop itself?
My name is Juliet ; you may well believe
I have had moments when I thrilled with the
expectation of a Romeo. But Romeos do not
grow on every gooseberry bush. It were
unreasonable to expect that any mere man is
sufficient. You will admit, for instance, that
neither the Grand Vizier, nor Rothenburg
of the watery eyes, was precisely the ideal
knight my fancy painted. St. George, to be
sure, was a dear : but I suspected him of
one fatal flaw — being married.
I waited and watched for that not im-
possible he; and the not impossible he still
When I came into my fortune (of five
guineas) my first impulse was naturally to
repay Michaela (which I did at once by post-
office order), and thus to transfer that particular
square of mosaic pavement from its nether
abode to some celestial mansion. My second
Il6 THE TYPE-WRITER (IIRL.
was, to buy a bunch of tea-roses for my
lodgings : and my third, to redeem my type-
writer, so as to return to St. Nicholas, as
some small mark of my gratitude, thirty
shillings from his latest benefaction.
On further thought, however, it occurred
to me that thirty shillings in the hand are
worth more at a crisis than a type-writer in
the bush — a mixed metaphor which not even
the printer's reader with his officious query
shall prevail upon me to rectify. If no work
came, I could live upon capital once more.
Meanwhile, the machine could be of no pos-
After three days, my hands were so far re-
covered that I began to look about me for a
situation again. I took up a daily paper and,
in a column of mixed wants, read another
"Wanted" advertisement: "Lady type-writer,
with good knowledge of shorthand. Apply,
Messrs. Blank and Sons, Publishers," — and
the address followed.
I liked the idea of a publisher's office, and
I liked that advertisement. My theory is that
a type-writer girl should call herself a type-
writer girl ; but that an advertiser should do
her the courtesy to speak of her as a Lady
Type-writer, or something of the sort : cer-
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. II/
tainly not as a (parenthetical) female. Also,
I must have literature. The literature at my
aunt's consisted of ladies' newspapers, Bishop
Jackson on "The Sinfulness of Little Sins,"
and books about the Holy Land. Here, I
should have access to the Springs of Cul-
So I hastened to apply for the vacant post.
I was not the first this time ; I met a girl on
the stairs, less strong than myself, coming
down from the office with a most dejected
countenance. If this were the struggle for
life, it made my heart ache (for her sake) to
think I must engage in it. However, I con-
tinued on my way, and boldly stated my
errand to the young man in attendance. That
young man struck a keynote. He was neat,
well-dressed, and had a black fringe of mous-
tache ; in spite of which advantages he was
not supercilious. His voice was a gentle-
man's. He told me Mr. Blank would be dis-
engaged in a moment; meanwhile, would I
take a seat ? I sank into one and waited.
The office was quite unlike Messrs. Flor and
Fingelman's. The anteroom where I sat was
exquisitely clean, and neatly fitted up with
polished shelves and wood-work. An air of
quiet culture pervaded the whole ; it seemed
Il8 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
to communicate itself even to the clerks. In
the pigeon-holes round the room stood rows
of books in glazed paper covers, looking as
spotless and as tidy as if a woman had
arranged them. Well-known names adorned
their backs. As for dust, it was not.
In a few minutes came the word, " Mr.
Blank will see you."
I followed my guide, expecting to be
ushered into a rather bare room with a vener-
able gentleman seated at a table ; I pictured
him, in fact, as the exact original of the hale
old grey-beard who testifies in the omnibuses
to the merits of Eno's Fruit Salt. For the
firm is one of the most dignified in London.
Instead of that, I found myself in a neat study,
— ^too cosy for an office, too severe for a bou-
doir. It had curtains of silken Samarcand,
and fittings of cedared Lebanon. It had also
a tawny Oriental carpet, and an old oak desk,
at which sat a young man of modest and
statuesque countenance. I guessed his age
at twenty-seven. He rose undecided as I
entered, like one whom native politeness im-
pels to an act which he half fears is ill-suited
to the occasion. As he turned towards me,
I saw a face of notable strength and culture ;
a finely-modelled nose, firm, yet soft in out-
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. II 9
line ; acute brown eyes, piercing, but gentle ;
abundant dark eyebrows that hung slightly
over them and gave a masterful air to their
keenness and penetration. His hair was
black and shaggy, like a retriever's. He was
tall, but well-knit. His eyes met mine as he
gave a little inclination. A thrill ran through
me. I knew him as by instinct. I said to
myself, " A Romeo ! "
1 suppose I was the only person in London
at the time who did not know that the head
of the firm had lately died, and been suc-
ceeded by his son, an Eton boy and Oxford
man, who had taken high honours.
Romeo waved me to a chair. " You have
come, I think," he said, in a rich, clear voice,
pausing for a minute out of instinctive cour-
tesy before he seated himself, " in answer to
"Yes," I replied ; " I understand you want
a ty>3-writer girl."
His eyebrows moved up at the words. 1
could see they produced a favourable im-
pression. He was accustomed to the formula
" a lady to type-write for you."
" Exactly," he answered, folding his hands,
and trying to assume the official tone of a man
of business ; though I was aware that he
120 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
was unobtrusively observing my dress and
appearance, not as Ahasuerus had done, like
a cross between an Oriental monarch and a
horse-dealer, but like a gentleman of keen
insight, accustomed to take things in at a
glance without disconcerting the object of
He put me a few stereotyped questions as
to speed and qualifications, which I was for-
tunately able to answer to his satisfaction.
Then he went on in a deprecat^ory way, " I
must ask you, I am afraid, to w i . .e a little to
my dictation, and then transcribe what you
have written. Excuse this detail. One must
test your ability."
" Of course," I assented, producing my
" We have had applicants already who did
not suit my requirements. One left as you
arrived. I — I was sorry not to be able to
engage her ; for I judged her to be in want ;
but — she was quite incompetent." He spoke
" I met her on the stairs," I replied. " She
appeared to be downcast."
He gave me a hurried glance, for there was
pity in my tone. " It is so unfortunate," he
said, " that one must insist on competence !
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. 121
For often the incompetent most need em-
" There is a beautiful story," I answered,
" about Robert Owen, when somebody patted
the head of a very pretty child at his school
at Harmony Hall. ' You are like all the rest,'
said Owen; 'you pat the prettiest. But it
is the ugly ones that need encouragement.'
That was true philanthropy."
He looked me through and through. I
took out my note-book, and assumed a busi-
ness-like air. He reached down a volume of
some History of Greece, and began dictating
rapidly. The passage, chosen of set purpose,
was full of Greek names, and rather recondite
words of technical import, I saw he had
selected it as a test of knowledge as well as
of speed. I was glad I had been at But
that would be confessing. I wrote rapidly
and well — more rapidly, I think, than I had
ever before done ; and I knew why : he was
" Do I go too fast ? " he asked at last,
looking up at me suddenly with a gentle
" Not at all," I replied. " You might try a
little faster, if you like, as you really wish to
122 THE TYl'E-WRITER GIRL.
" And you know the names ? " he inquired
with an incredulous accent.
" Perfectly. Please go on ; ' the hegemony
of Thebes * was the last clause you dictated."
He continued to the end. ' Boeotia thus
lost the flower of her hoplites,' were the
words with which he finished.
I wrote it all out in long-hand, very clearly
and distinctly. He ran his eye over it. " But
this is excellent ! " he said at last, glancing at
it close. " You have all the words right.
You must have studied Greek, haven't you ? "
I temporised. " A little."
He paused again. Then, after a few ques-
tions to draw me out, especially as to attain-
ments, he began rather timidly. "This is
precisely what I want. I require a lady of
education, who can take down instructions
and write letters to authors on the subject-
matter of their works, without need for
correction. But — I'm afraid the post would
hardly suit you. If you will excuse my
saying so, you are too good for the place. I
do not mean as to salary — that, no doubt, I
could arrange ... in accordance .
with qualifications." He glanced quickly at
my black dress again. " But I fear — I fear
you will find the work beneath you."
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. 1 23
" You can set your mind entirely at rest
on that score,' I answered frankly. "I will
tell you the plain truth — I am in need
of a situation, and shall be glad to get
He hesitated once more. " Still, I feel
doubts of conscience," he went on. " I will
be quite open with you. You may think me
quixotic, but I have ideas of my own — social
ideas — some people might even say socialistic.
Here is this work, which I have it in my
hands to bestow ; which I hold as a trust,
almost. It would suffice to keep some poor
lady's wants supplied — some lady who is in
need of actual necessaries. Now, I do not
think it right that young gentlewomen who
have all they need already found them at
home should compete in the market against
poor girls in search of a bare subsistence.
They ought not to deprive such girls of
bread in order to add to their own pin-money.
This movement for ' doing something' on the
part of well-to-do women is pressing hard on
the girls of the lower middle-class. Pardon
my putting it so ; but 3 ou come from a home,
no doubt, where you have all you require ;
and you seek this work just to increase your
124 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
1 thought it was sweet of him. I could see
I was exactly the person he wanted ; yet for
a matter of principle he was prepared to take
someone possibly less suited to his special re-
quirements. I was glad that I could answer
with the ring of truth, " There, you are quite
mistaken. I am one of the class whom you
desire to employ — in fact, a girl in search of
a bare subsistence. I do not say so in order
to appeal to your generosity ; I only wish to
obtain work on my merits for what my ser-
vices are worth in the open market But if,
as you say, I prove a suitable person for your
purpose in other respects, you need have no
scruple on the grounds you suggest about
employing me. I have nothing to live upon
save what I can earn by type-writing."
He blushed like a girl of eighteen. He
was distressed that he had driven me into
making this avowal. " Oh, forgive me," he
said, rising again from his chair. " I — it was
awkward of me to put it thus bluntly. But
you are so evidently a lady of education that
I took it for granted — you will understand
my natural error, I only hesitated to give
a post which might be filled by a person
in need of employment to an amateur who
wanted occupation and pocket-money."
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. 12$
"I quite understand," I answered. "Out
bicycling last week, I passed a common where
shaggy donkeys, with unkempt coats, stood
in the sunsliint; dejected, hanging their heads
as if they had been reading Schopenhauer."
(He looked up suddenly at the name with an
inquiring glance.) " But their mood was
justified ; for geese were tugging at the
short grass hard by, nibbling it close to the
root ; and I felt the four-footed beasts might
well be melancholy at the struggle for life
when birds, winged creatures that may career
over the world, took to competing with them
by grazing like cattle, and snatched the bread
out of the donkey's mouth."
His face wore an amused smile. " But
you are learned," he put in. "You might
obviovtsly be engaged in so much higher
work — a teacher's, for instance."
" I should hate teaching ! " I cried vehe-
mently, " I prefer freedom. I am prepared
for th<: drudgery of earning my livelihood in a
house of business. But I must realise myself."
"I understand that," he answered; "and —
and sympathise with it. Well, I apologise for
my mistake. Under the circumstances, we
need only proceed to arrange the business
part of this transaction."
126 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
He named a weekly sum. It was my turn
to blush. "That is too much," I exclaimed.
I could see he was fixing it, not by the
market price, but by what he thought a suffi-
cient income for a person of my presumed
position in society. It was all so alien from
Ahasuerus's way of hiring a Shorthand and
" Not for so competent an assistant," he
answered, still nervous.
Awkward as it might be to begin one's
relations with a new employer by an apparent
contest of generosity, yet I could not accept
the sum he proposed. I told him so in plain
words ; he insisted : I beat him down. After
a brief but well-contested skirmish, I camped
on the field as victor, though we compromised
for a wage a little less than half-way between
what he wished to give and what I was pre-
pared to accept. It did not escape me at the
time, however, that such a first step almost
of necessity entailed a certain sentimental
tinge in our relations : they would scarce be
those of employer and employed, as regulated
by custom and political economy.
When all protocols were settled he went
on, "Can you come in at once ?"
"To-day, if you wish it."
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. 1 27
"Oh, that would be such a convenience
to me ! I have matters to settle which I do
not wish to hand over just now to my
clerks ; it was my desire that you sliould act
as confidential letter-writer in my dt alings
with authors, quite outside the business."
"I will begin this afternoon," I said.
" Our type-writing machine — the one I in-
tended for you — is " I forget precisely
which make he mentioned, but it was one to
whose keyboard I was unaccustomed. " Can
you work with it ? "
" No," I answered. " But I have my own.
I will bring it."
" How kind of you ! Though you must not
continue to use it, of course. We have no
right to impose upon you the wear and tear.
If you will tell me which sort you prefer, it
shall be here to-morrow. Meanwhile, for to-
day, if you would bring round your own, I
should be greatly obliged to you."
" I will go and fetch it," I said, remember-
ing that it lay close by in St. Nicholas's safe
" How ? In a cab ? "
I smiled. His politeness positively embar-
rassed me. " No ; in my hands," I replied.
" I am accustomed to carry it."
128 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
" But type-writers are so heavy," he remon-
strated. (I felt his anxiety to treat me like a
lady was leading: to complications, and I half
regretted the Grand Vizier's lofty sense of
masculine superiority.) " Had you not better
take a cab ? "
"No," I answered with firmness ; for I
felt I must put a stop to this strain at the out-
set. An employer should know his place.
" I can carry it easily, thank you."
He looked at me with a curious look. I
suppose I have the average endowment of
feminine intuition ; and I felt sure he was
debating in his own mind whether or not he
should tell me to call a hansom and charge it
to the office. It was my own old duologue
of Inclination and Duty, Inclination said,
" Make her take it " ; Duty interposed, " You
must begin as you mean to go on. This is
an office matter. If she cannot work your
machine, and wishes to bring her own, she
must convey it at her own expense. You
have no ground to stand upon."
After a pause in which, as I could see,
either impulse got the upper hand alternately,
he compromised the matter. " Is it far ? " he
"Close by. I can fetch it in five minutes."
A SAIL ON THE HORIZON. I29
" Then one of my clerks will step round
with you and carry it for you."
I blushed bright crimson. I iiad imagined
shyness to be (like " sensibility," hysterics,
and fainting) an obsolete disease of tiie early
Victorian epoch. I now knew that it survived
into our own time. I could feel the hot blood
flooding my ears and cheeks, and running
dovv^n my neck. What on earth could I
answer ? How let the clerk see where I had
left my machine ? How confess to Romeo to
whose keeping I had confided it ? He could
never understand that, to a girl of my
temperament, those golden balls were but
the mystic symbol of the saint of Myra. I
knew not what to answer. I stood still and
blushed ; and my blush it was that betrayed,
yet saved me.
Lifting my eyes one second in a mute
appeal, I saw right into his soul as he stood
there, facing me, more nervous, more em-
barrassed than ever. I saw he divined that
I lived in some poor quarter, or had a drunken
mother, or something equally discreditable,
and was ashamed to let his clerk know it.
But he withdrew, like a gentleman that he
was to the finger-ends. " How stupid of
me! " he went on. "I see, of course, it would
130 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
be unpleasant for you to walk down the
street with one of my clerks — though they
are nice young men, all of them. Excuse my
gamheric. Hut — you are coming in at once
to oblige me ; I ought to have arranged to
have a machine here to suit you. Won't you
please take a cab, and allow me to — to charge
it to the office?"
He had got it out at last. I changed colour
once more. To hide my shyness — for to my
vast surprise, I was speechlessly shy by this
time — I pulled out my handkerchief. As fate
would have it — fate that mocks at human
souls — I drew with it from my pocket a little
square of blue paper which fell, face down-
ward, on the floor. How can I confess the
truth ? It was — the counterfoil or ticket I
had received for my machine from the repre-
sentative of )6i. Nicholas.
A CAVALIER MAKES ADVANCES.
I GRIEVE to hint a doubt of my chosen patron,
but enlarged experience of St. Nicholas has
led me to believe that he lacks consistency.
His action is jerky. Though he will often
sweep down, as of old, in a pale haze of glory,
to rescue some votary from instant shipwreck,
he is hardly a saint in whom a girl can repose
implicit confidence. At tight places of social
trial he is apt to fail one.
I had but one consolation. The ticket had
fallen on the floor face downward.
I stooped to pick it up. My cheeks, I
feel sure, must have glowed with crimson.
Shame tingled in my ears. But Romeo was
beforehand with me. He raised the scrap of
paper and handed it to me, still face down-
ward, with a faint inclination. I lifted my
lowered eyelids. My swimming eyes par- '
leyed with his for a second. I cannot say
whether he was aware what manner of thing
132 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
he was passing me ; but I fancy he did know.
Yet if he knew I felt sure he interpreted the
episode aright, for his glance was one of mute
respect and symi)at]iy.
I crushed the unspeakable pasteboard into
my pocket, never uttering a word, and rushed,
hot and red, from the room, without daring to
speak to him.
On the stairs I debated whether I could
ever come back. Prudence and Shame fought
it out between them. Prudence won. I de-
termined to go on as if nought untoward had
I might have failed, even so, in my resolu-
tion, had it not chanced that my road to the
Depository of my machine lay past the eating-
house where I was wont to retire for bodily
refreshment from Flor and Fingelman's. As
I reached the door a hand touched my arm.
I looked round, startled, and saw the Grand
Vizier, outward bound from luncheon, with
his hairy hands, his goggle eyes, his shiny
black coat grown green on the seams, and his
false diamond pin shaped like a shoe of the
"Good-morning, miss," he said in a pert tone.
I echoed his salute, and made as though I
would pass on hurriedly. But I noted in
A CAVALIER MAKES ADVANCES. 1 33
his accent, even from the three words he
had spoken, a change of mien ; he was
almost what for him might be deemed re-
" Look here," he went on, striding after me,
and keeping abreast of me against my will.
" That was a devilish clever letter of yours —
to the governor, you know — a devilish clever
letter ! "
" I am proud to have earned the approba-
tion of so competent a critic," I answered in
my chilliest voice. " Praise from Sir Hubert
He glanced at me with suspicion. I think
his first and most flattered idea was that I
mistook him for a distinguished baronet ; his
second, neutral in tint, that I was mad ; his
third, and most reluctant, that I was poking
sly fun at him.
" Look here," he began again — it was his
formula for introducing a fresh paragraph in
his converse — " I've got an invitation for you.
I've been looking about for you everywhere.
Will you come with me on Thursday night,
dress circle, at the Olympic ? "
He rolled it out impressively, as one who
felt sure that the solemnity of the dress circle
would subdue my stubborn neck.
134 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
" No, thanks," I answered ; " I never go to
theatres with casual acquaintances."
Then I walked on still faster, for I foresaw
that I must often meet him in future, since our
offices lay close together ; and I judged it best
to let him see at once I did not crave the
honour of his society.
'* Oh, but this is on the square," he went
on. "You don't understand. You think I
don't mean right by you because ! am a
gentleman in a position of Trust and Re-
sponsibility, and you are " — he was about to
say "a type-writer girl," but he checked him-
self in time and substituted for it the phrase
" a lady stenographer." " While you were at
the office," he went on, " I couldn't treat you
on equal terms, of course, because of my
official position- But when I read that letter
I saw at one glance you had brains ; and
I like a girl with brains, and I mean to walk
out with one."
" Indeed ? " I answered. " Then I advise
you not to waste your valuable time on a
woman who does not pant for that privilege,"
He let his mouth drop open. " But it's a
ticket for two," he expostulated, " given me
by a friend of mine who takes a part in the
piece. You'd better think twice. It isn't
A CAVALIER MAKES ADVANCES. 1 35
every day one gets a chance of a seat in the
dress circle. And if I go at all I like to take
a young lady."
This marked advance. I had gone up in
the world. At Southu. oton Row I had been
"a young person."
He continued to talk, and I continued to
turn my coldest shoulder.
At last we reached the door of the Deposi-
tory, The goggle eyes ogled me. I saw that
some violent act was needful if I were to
escape persecution at the man's hands in
future. I paused by the step. " I am going
in here," I said, bravely.
The Vizier did not observe the peculiar
character of the shop as a shrine of St.
Nicholas. "I will wait for you," he answered,
waving one hairy hand with cheerful prompti-
I braced myself up for a deadly thrust. "I
have left my machine here," I went on in a
cold clear voice, " and I am going in . . .
to redeem it. I shall then carry it home. A
Gentleman in a position of Trust and Respon-
sibility will not like to be seen by my side as
I carry it."
He glanced up at the mystic sign — one
glance, no more. I saw his face grow pale.
136 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
To SO respectable a man such conduct was
inexplicable. Refuse a ticket for the dress
circle, and yet
I darted in, with the same fierce flush of
shame and repugnance as before. But this
time the need for getting rid of him had given
me false courage.
When I emerged with the machine, a limp
flaccid creature, half-dead with disgust, the
Grand Vizier had melted away, disappeared
among the phantoms. So again Apollo or St.
Nicholas had saved me.
Our courses crossed afterwards in the street
many times. But his tolerance of type-writer
girls had its proper limits. He tacked across
to the other side as I hove in sight lest he
should be exposed to the risk of having to
acknowledge a salute from so compromising a
I will say for St. Nicholas that though he
has curious methods of bringing about the
deliverance of those who trust him, he is a
gentleman at heart, and he usually succeeds
in the end in giving efl'ect to his benevolent
It is a far cry from Verona to London. The
ways of the Corso are not the ways of Pall Mall.
Therefore, when I admit that my heart cried
" A Romeo ! " you are not to infer that I had
fallen in love with him. I merely mean that I
recognised in my new friend the type of man
who might conceivably command my heart and
me, should fate so will it.
When Romeo of Verona first saw his Juliet
at the Capulets' masque, 'tis on record that, at
first sight of her, he forgot fair Rosaline (for
whose sake but one hour earlier he was dying
to die), and seizing his new goddess's hand,
assured her, without preamble or introduction,
that his lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stood
to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss;
while Juliet, in return, was prepared to avow
at a glance that if the stranger were married
her grave was like to be her wedding bed.
Those be the modes of Verona, as vouched by
138 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Shakespeare. Our northern hearts, however,
have not the instant electric responsiveness of
Italian breasts. Love with us is the child,
not the mother of acquaintance. And though
I thought of my Romeo as Romeo from the
first moment I beheld him, never calling him
in my soul by any other name, yet 'twas but
some prophetic fancy on my part. For many
weeks he figured as no more than my em-
Juliet of Verona, if I recollect aright, when
she flung herself upon Romeo, was not yet
full fourteen till Lammas night ; at her age our
northern maid, with her fair hair down, has
conceived a romantic attachment for chocolate-
creams and the prettiest of her governesses. I
was twenty-two; and twenty-two, that mature
age, takes time to consider. Moreover, it waits
till its Romeo asks it.
For, pretend as we will, the plain truth is
this: woman is plastic till the predestined man
appears; then she takes the mould he chooses
to impose upon her. Men make their own
lives, women's are made for them. Why,
one of my dearest friends at the Guild — an
ethereal being — was wont to pace the garden
with a vellum-covered Rossetti or Pater in her
pocket, composing chants-royal Lo the moon
CONCERNING ROMEO. I 39
and to divine love, till a man loomed on the
horizon — a man in a Norfolk jacket, with a
commission in the Guards and estates in the
Midlands; whereupon she exchanged the Ros-
setti all at once for a blear-eyed ferret, and
strolled about the lanes accompanied by a fox-
terrier and a Cuban bloodhound. This is not
poetical, but 'tis life as I have noted it.
To cut moralising short, I settled down at
once to work at my Romeo's.
When I arrived there with my machine,
more dead than alive with shame, the good-
looking clerk carried it upstairs for me
reverently. He was a comely youth, with
a clean round face, Devonshire apple cheeks,
and pleasant parsonage manners ; he came,
indeed, as I discovered later, from an Exmoor
rectory. A table was set for me in Romeo's
own room. I feared to invade that sanctum.
"Am I to sit right here?" I asked. He
smiled and answered, " Right there." So
I took my place under protest. Thenceforth,
I was part of the furniture of his study.
My life at Romeo's was a life of routine.
Now routine (varied by outbreaks) is ex-
cellent for the nerves ; but it does not afford
material for romance. It is the drab of life :
art insists rather on the purple and scarlet.
140 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
So I make no apology for dealing with it here
only in a few brief episodes.
All our history is episode, with blanks
between, which just serve conveniently to
divide the chapters.
At home, my social circle was limited to
Mr. Commissioner Lin : my conversation
to " Did 'ums, then ? did 'ums ? " At occa-
sional intervals I dined with my aunt, who
abode at Paddington : but I did not j'^earn to
make that joy too common. M3' revered
relation has all the vices of the decayed
gentlewoman : unheroic vices, which interest
nobody. She hoards bits of string, and half-
sheets of note-paper. Her table, her ideas,
and her discourse are meagre. She entertains
angels, disguised as curates, and is a prop
of the Deaconesses' Institute.
At the office, I had my seat in Romeo's
own room. Poverty emancipates. It often
occurred to me how different things would
have been had my dear father lived, and had
I remained a young lady. In that case,
I could have seen Romeo at intervals only,
under shelter of a chaperon ; as it was, no
one hinted the faintest impropriety in the
fact that the type-writer girl was left alone
with him half the day in the privacy of his
CONCERNING ROMEO. 14I
Study. Not that this freedom gave me much
occasion (at first) for talk with Romeo. He
was courtesy itself, and by nature conversible :
but his chivalrous feelings, and his sense
of my isolation, made him chary of speaking.
He dictated all day, or left me to transcribe ;
but he seldom broke silence save on matters
Nevertheless, from the outset, he was
markedly kind to me. I had two nice boys
at hand to run errands and carry my notes ;
one, a skimpy London imp, compact of saucy
humour ; I called him Puck : the other,
a slender lad of fifteen, pale, delicate, girlishly
pretty, with long straw-coloured hair and
a distracted manner, whom I rechristened
Ariel. Romeo gradually adopted this trick
of speech from me. It is a habit of mine (as
you may have observed) to invent names
for my friends ; and these generally stick —
I suppose because I borrovr them as a rule
from the poets, who have classified us into
types which recur perennially.
After I had been at the office a few weeks,
I happened one day to slip into some Ameri-
canism. Though I have seen little of America
(having gone there but once on a visit to my
father's folk at Salem when I was not quite
142 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
fifteen) I have inherited from my ancestry not
a few Massachusetts idioms, one or other of
which I sometimes let drop, unconsciously
to myself, in the course of conversation.
Romeo snapped at the word at once. " Why,
you must be a New Englander ! "
" Not quite," I answered, flushing. " My
father was born at Salem, an American
citizen ; but he became naturalised in England
young, and was a British officer."
" Not in the army ? " Romeo cried, sur-
"Yes," 1 answered. " Why not? A colonel."
I grew hot as I spoke. For the first and
only time, I think Romeo doubted me.
"Then you — must have — a pension," he
broke out, slowly.
It was partly desire to avoid telling the
truth, partly a certain native love of mystifica-
tion — or rather of piquing other people's
curiosity ; but I answered with a touch of
defiance, "An officer's daughter loses her
pension on marriage. I may be married,
perhaps — or separated — or a widow." And
I bent down over my work to hide my
He gazed at me for a second ; his eye fell
on my left hand ; then he glanced away.
CONCERNING ROMEO. I43
I could see him saying to himself he had no
right to cross-question me. But interest in
me prevailed. He drew near, and stood
over me. "You must forgive my persistence,"
he said, gently, in his modulated voice — each
syllable clear as crystal — "but I feel con-
strained to ask you. Have you really a
pension ? . . . . For if so, you have
I looked up at him with proud eyes. My
father's blood rose hot in me. " I must tell
you the truth," I said, " or you will think I
am ashamed of my father. I am not ashamed;
I am proud of him. He was an English
colonel ; but I have no pension. He was a
very brave man. He threw up his commis-
sion, in time of war, at a moment of danger,
almost in face of the enemy, because he would
not carry out orders which seemed to him
unjust. And he died of anxiety and fever
just after, on the West Coast of Africa."
" I remember the case. Pray forgive me.
It was cruel of me to drive you."
" Not at all. I am glad you did. Now you
will understand better."
I rose, flushed, and faced him. " They say
a soldier should resign his conscience into the
keeping^ of the Queen's advisers. My father
144 THE TYPE-WUITER GIRL.
could not. He felt wrong v/as being done.
He would not make his judgment blind. He
left me poor by it ; and I am proud of it —
proud of him."
"You have reason to be proud," Romeo
answered. "I recall it all now. His previous
record showed it was courage, not cowardice.
I honoured him for it at the time — though
the world thought otherwise."
"Thank you," I said in a low voice. "May
I go now ? It is nearly five. And I feel,
after this, I can do no more work this even-
He opened the door for me and bowed even
more respectfully than usual. There was
sympathy in every movement. I felt he
understood. I felt I had made a friend. I
felt, still more surely than before, that this
was my Romeo.
"NOW DARAIiBAS WAS A PUBLISHER.
I REGRET to say that from that day forth
Romeo was more marked in his courtesy to
me than ever. His manner had always a
tinge of sweet antique courtliness ; but now
he surpassed himself I regret it, I say,
because I was afraid I recognised in this
courtesy some lingering undercurrent of class
feeling. The dear fellow would have been
polite to a type-writer girl from the dregs of
the people, no doubt — he did not know how
to be less than polite to anyone ; but he was
politer still when he understood that I was an
officer's daughter, and (as he learned a week
later) that my mother had sprung from a great
Anglo-Indian family. This was treason to his
principles ; for Romeo, as he had said, was
more than half a socialist ; but I condoned that
fault for the sake of his unvarying kindness.
Besides, I think he thought well of me
because I was loyal to my father's memory.
146 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
As though anyone who had known my dear
father could have been otherwise !
Romeo published for Sidney Trevelyan.
From the moment when I first noticed "An
Heir of the Fiantagenets" among the rows of
books in glazed paper covers in the pigeon-
holes, I had always longed to be present
some day when the famous novelist came in
to discuss royalties or editions de luxe with his
publisher. Sidney Trevelyan's name was
like Charing Cross or Hyde Park Corner — a
familiar piece of public property. One after-
noon I had my will. I was seated at my
table, clicking away at some letters, when I
heard on the stairs a rich strident voice,
diffusing itself very loud in clear shrill
accents, I know lot which struck me most,
its richness or its stridency. It was a sonor-
ous voice, which one turn of a note would
have made unendurable. "He is in his lair?"
it said, filling the room. " Plotting schemes
to suck my blood ? Then I will track him to
his earth — the young vampire. My dear
Barabbas, how are you ? "
He burst into the sanctum, a whirlwind of
a man — large, loose-limbed, masterful, with a
restless grey eye, and a huge mop of brown
hair, shot with thread- of russet. Romeo
"NOW BARABBAS WAS A PUBLISHER." I47
rose to greet him. He flung himself into a
chair. It creaked beneath his elephantine
weight. I left off clicking at once, and went
on with a piece of long-hand transcription.
Or rather, to be frank, I feigned to transcribe,
though my pen was inkless.
As a rule, when authors came, 'twas my
place to leave the study for awhile, and take
refuge with Puck and Ariel in the anteroom.
But as the great man entered — two yards of
humanity, double width — Romeo signed to
me to remain, with a quick movement of the
eyebrow. He knew my wish, and was kind
enough to remember it. I counted it to him
Sidney Trevelyan sniff'ed, and scanned the
room, with its Oriental hangings, and its scent
of cedar-wood. "A nice den, Barabbas, a
nice den ! " he observed, in a condescending
tone; "an Ali Baba's cave, rich with bones
of authors; vastly improved since the days of
the old robber ! "
Romeo winced. Like myself, he respected
" You have garnished it afresh," the great
novelist continued, "from the spoils of the
Egyptians. You have decked yourself in
purple and fine linen ! Well, 'tis well you
148 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
should be comfortable in this world, no doubt:
for in the next But I refrain from painting
a Tartarean picture. Dante has done it so
well before me that, like the grocer in my
street, he de^es competition. I see you, my
dear Barabbas," he raised his voice still
louder, almost lapsing into a falsetto, "I see
you lolling here in Eastern opulence, bathed in
Cyprian perfumes, and fanned by obsequious
Circassian odalisques" — I/^//him glance my
way, though my eyes were fixed on my paper ;
" I see you,)ike the sultan in Shelley's //(?//a5,
surrounded by large-eyed houris, of volup-
tuous bosoms, who strew your restless pillow
with opiate flowers — I call your pillow rest-
less, my dear fellow, partly because that was
Shelley's epithet, if memory serves me, but
partly also because a publisher (especially a
young one) can scarcely expect to enjoy
sound slumber ; later on, no doubt, as he
becomes hardened in crime, he sleeps as well
as a digestion impaired by old port permits ;
but at first, remorse must disturb his fitful
rest — I see you, I say, with opiate flowers on
your couch stripped — what was the rhyme ?
— ah, yes, 'flowers,' 'pillow' — stripped from
orient bowers by the Indian billow. That is
the picture — here. But at last comes the
"NOW RARABBAS WAS A rUBLISHER." I49
awakening." He struck a dramatic attitude,
and held up one hand , he had impressive
fat hands, which seemed always in evidence.
" You start from your sleep like Mahmood.
' Man the seraglio — guard ! Make fast the
gate ! ' You dream yourself still lapped in
Eastern magnificence. Then . . . . ha !
what's this ? An odour of brimstone — a
pallid whiff of blue flame — Mephistopheles
smiling grimly on the victim he has landed —
you know where you are — unlike the current
hero of music-hall romance — you stretch dim
hands of fear and grope — j^ou sink down,
down, down, on a couch of liquid fire. 'All
is lost ! Why was I ever a publisher ? ' In
which of his circles did Dante place publishers?
Was it not close between the avaricious and
the prevaricators ? But aloft in the empyrean,
pillowed on purple cloud, meanwhile, I enjoy
that delight upon which Tertullian insisted
as a prime element in the ecstasy of the Blest
— the delight of beholding you But your
satellites overhear me ! Sense of discipline
forbids ! Barabbas," he waved his hand, " I
draw a veil over your future condition ! "
He paused for want of breath. Most fat
men are sluggish : this mountain of flesh was
alive and volcanic in every atom. Romeo
150 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
began in his soft voice, "And on what par-
ticular conspiracy of crime have you come to-
day to consult the habitual criminal ? "
Sidney Trevelyan smiled. He liked to be
taken in his mood. " Well, my business,"
he said, "is, as you anticipate, a fresh raid
against the purses of the Philistines. We
must spoil them, my dear Barabbas ; we must
spoil them, in unison. Here, our interests
are identical. They have taken two thousand,
I see, of the three-volume 'Mahatmas,' That's
not enough ; you must issue at once a six-
shilling edition. Grovelling beasts, prone in
the mud they love, what do they mean by
rejecting this so great salvation? Let Mudies
see to it ! I shall answer their neglect by
flinging back ' Mahatmas' in their teeth for six
shillings. I know whence it comes, this re-
buff: those ignorant parrots, the critics. They
toss at me ever their parrot cry of ' Artificial,
artificial ! ' Their own thoughts grub and
grunt in the mud of their sty, and they blame
it to the eagle that he should circle about
gleaming icy peaks in clear ether. ' Un-
natural,' they say; 'Overloaded.' That man
Snigg, or Snagg, or Snogg — something Teu-
tonic and unlovely — I decline to remember
his honoured name — he reviewed me in the
"NOW BARABBAS WAS A PUBLISHER." 151
Parthenon. He has no wings himself, and
therefore he thinks flight an indecent gambol-
Hng. But what do I care for the whole crew ?
Not an obolus, not a doit — neither for Snagg
nor Bagg, neither for Archer nor Parcher."
He paused again to catch breath. In the
lull, Romeo put in quietly, " It is too soon,
in my opinion, for a cheap edition."
" No, Barabbas, it is not; it is the pyscho-
logical moment. The world awaits it with
hushed breath. Six shillings — bound in cloth
— Irish linen — dark green — a subtle shade —
a shade I have in my mind's eye — like laven-
der leaves in spring, when the sap mounts
emerald through sea-hoary stems. You catch
my idea? A green not wholly green, not
altogether blue, not grey, not glaucous, but
something of all, and more than all; with a
cunning design by that mad young Belgian
— withy-bands that twist into interlacing
dragons ; the title in their midst, in some-
v/hat Celtic letters."
He broke off abruptly. Once more I
could feel him glance my way. I seemed to
see through the back of my head. I was
sensitive to his movements.
Suddenly, he burst out in a quite different
voice, snorting like a war-horse : " Send that
r52 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
''' young woman away ! " he cried, executing a
sort of ponderous rhinoceros-dance before
me. " Send her away ! I tell you I can't
stand her. I won't have her scribbling there
and making notes of all I say. She's a para-
graphist — a paragraphist : the vilest spawn
on God's earth, a paragraphist ! What do
you mean by setting spavined shorthand
writers to report my obiter dicta ? " He
advanced towards me, striding : I had risen
hurriedly. "Go off!" he cried, waving his
hands at me as if I were a gadfly. " Go off!
I won't be listened to and paragraphed. I
could feel you paragraphing me. Away,
young woman : away with you." And by
dint of sheer bulk, he drove me before
Romeo opened the door for me. He spoke
with deference. " I think, Miss Appleton," he
said, " you had better take a seat in the ante-
room for the moment, as your presence here
seems to disturb Mr. Trevelyan."
I went out, mystified. As the door closed
behind me, I heard the great man snort again.
" Now, really, Barabbas, if you choose to keep
dubky Samian slaves chained in your lair
for your hours of leisure, you should have
the decency to unchain them when fellow-
"NOW BARABBAS WAS A PUBLISHER." I S3
conspirators come in with proposals for a
joint campaign against Askelon."
I sat in the anteroom for half an hour.
Ariel gazed in my face with sympathetic
inquiry. " The old bear was rude ? " he
asked at last, in a low voice.
"I might almost call him so."
"It is his way," Ariel replied. "He seems
to wipe his shoes on one."
" But he's not a bad old chap, either," Puck
put in. " He chucked me half-a-crown once
for going a message for him."
"And called you a Tartar-nosed imp,"
Ariel added ; " and hit you in the eye with it."
" He is a very great genius," I observed,
sententiously, half to salve my own offended
" But a genius is a man," Ariel remarked.
And I felt he had reason.
Twenty minutes later, the famous writer
emerged. He cast a scowl at me in pass-
ing. " Change your type-writer woman ! " he
said curtly to Romeo. " Good-bye, my dear
Barabbas. Rob on, rob ever." His broad
back vanished down the staircase like a sink-
" Well ? " Romeo asked, with an anxious
face, as I returned to my post when the tor-
5 4 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
nado had passed. " Nov^ you have seen him,
what do you think of Sidiey Trevelyan ?"
" I think," I said, " I would rather be a
Barabbas than a Byron. '
FRESH LIGHT ON ROMEO.
"Sidney Trevelyan is a great man," Romeo
said to me later ; " but his ideas are too great
— especially his idea of his own greatness.
This taints life for him : he moves in an at-
mosphere of social suspicion^ 'Tis his fixed
belief that all the world is always thinking of
him, when it is really doing as he does —
thinking of itself. He imagines reporters as
a sultan imagines poison, or as a tsar imagines
nihilists ; he scents a paragraphist in every
hedge, and a critic in every stranger." Which
explains, I suppose, his odd behaviour.
But my own opinion is that he needed an
audience ; I could catch it in his voice that he
meant me to overhear ; because I affected to
be absorbed in my work he thought I was
not listening, and that made him angry.
Romeo was kindness itself to me ; yet I
dare say I might never have grown to know
him better had it not been for the special
156 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
providence of an accident — or the accident of
a special providence ; put it whichever way
best suits your philosophy.
Straying one afternoon through the Cretan
labyrinth of Soho, I happened to note a
young girl, very poorly dressed, but with the
air of a lady, staring in at a confectioner's.
Her lace struck a chord. I ransacked my
memory for it in vain. Then I recalled in a
flash where I had met her before ; she was
the girl whom I had passed on the stairs at
Romeo's on the day when I went to apply
for the situation ; the girl whom I had sup-
planted in the struggle for existence.
Her shrinking figure, her whipped air,
made me turn to ask an inevitable question :
" Have you found work yet ? "
" No, none," she said dejectedly. " How
came you to know I wanted it ? "
I explained where I had seen her, and how
I had heard or guessed her errand. She
seemed unduly grateful. My heart was
touched, for though I doubt not you think
me, on my own evidence, a heartless young
woman, I have a heart, after all, when
aught occurs to rouse it. I reflected at
once how even my gentle Romeo had said
of this poor child that she was hope-
FRESH LIGHT ON ROMEO. 1 57
lessly incompetent. Still, the incompetent
have mouths to feed, and bodies to clothe,
and possibly, also, souls to save, like the
rest of us. The struggle for life has not
quite choked out my soul (if I have one).
I invited her to my room for a cup of tea, and
an ounce of sympathy. Her gratitude was a
satire on Christian charity in this town of
London. I found she could type fairly well,
though quite unintelligently, like a well-
trained Chinaman ; but she had no machine
of her own, and no money to buy one ; nor
could she undertake work where dictation
was necessary ; though, given a copy, she
could reproduce each word with mechanical
It flashed across me at once that all day
long I was away at Romeo's, and did not
need my machine. " Better come here," I
said, " and use it. I will find you manu-
scripts to transcribe ; we have plenty of such
work to give away at the office."
She fawned on me like a dog accustomed
to ill-treatment, and for once used kindly.
The ravenous way in which she ate bread
and butter would have satisfied even the
Charity Organisation Society as to the
genuineness of her hunger. She was pain-
158 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
fully grateful. Her gratitude distressed me.
After that we became fast friends. It is
true, she was terrified at the first smell of
tobac But I forget ; that delinquency
I have hitherto concealed from you. How-
ever, she used my machine every day, and
I helped her in the evenings. Pale, blue-
eyed, colourless, with thin hair tied up in a
knot the size of a nutmeg, she was built on
the same lines as Michaela (whom I always
remembered), but with this trifling diff'erence
— that Michaela was rich, while my now little
friend had not a cent to bless herself with.
One was bound in Morocco, with gilt edges ;
the other, a cheap edition, in paper covers.
Her name was Elsie, her front name,
that is to say ; for she had another, I sup-
pose, a surname ; but I took no heed of it.
Surnames lie on the surface of things, and do
not interest me. They are of this age, utili-
tarian ; while I, who dwell ever in Once-
upon-a-time, care little save for the pe'-sons
and dates of fairyland. We give each otl.^r
surnames, indeed, only so long as we are
mutual phantoms ; once pierce to the under-
lying realities of human life, and we call
one another by pet names, like so many
FRESH LFJIIT ON ROMEO. 159
In time Elsie became to me a sort of
adopted daughter. She was older than I to
be sure ; but her helplessness and incom-
petence inspired in me at last that sense of
motherliness which we women love — does it
not come out in us even toward our dolls in
childhood ? Her affection was canine. I
found work for her from a type-writing office
hard by — simple work, selected with a special
eye to her limitations. She toiled at it with
that patience which one observes in the
squirrel who turns the unceasing treadmill of
his cage ; for minds of a certain calibre prefer
routine, which would kill a thinking animal,
to any task that calls for the slightest exercise
of intelligence. As long as she was permitted
to go on copying like a machine, Elsie was
perfectly happy : a doubt or a query seemed
(as she said) to comb her brain ; she lost
heart before an alternative.
I spent little time in my room myself, save
for the strict necessaries of sleep and break-
fast ; at other times I was driven out of it by
a work of art on the walls — the Portrait of
a Locket. It represented, or rather repre-
sents (for doubtless it still exists), a gold
locket and chain, reposing on an ample
black silk bosom, with a woman's face and
l60 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
hands in the background. The face and
hands, so far as can be seen, are fat and
placid ; the hands crossed ; the face feature-
less. Flesh-tints and modelling, however,
cast much rude work upon the imagination.
I had not courage enough to suggest the
removal oi this gem to my landlady, who
valued it highly as "a real oil-painting"; but
it, and two vases, drove me out, I will not
say to the public-house, but to the public
buildings. I retired at odd moments to my
drawing-room in the National Gallery, or
to the hospitable electric light of the British
Museum. Elsie, on the other hand, was not
repelled by the locket or the lady. I had now
no use for my machine, and she worked on
it constantly. She and the Commissioner
struck up a violent friendship. It did her
good to have some living creature at hand in
the room to whom she could talk in the inter-
vals of click-clicking. To enlarge her circle
I added in time a starling and a canary, whom
we christened Beef and Mustard. The canary
was Mustard because of his colour, and the
starling Beef because there was so much
more of him.
One of the points which had barred Elsie's
way in the matter of obtaining employment,
FRESH LIGHT ON ROMEO. l6l
she felt profoundly convinced, was her reli-
gious opinions, which were soundly narrow.
This happily enabled her, like Rothenburg,
to gild her penury with the halo of the
For myself, I suspect that incompetence
had more to do with her failure than religious
prejudice ; but that is a private conviction.
She was a Positivist, or a Plymouth Sister, or a
member of some other uncanny small sect ; I
will plead guilty to discriminating ill these
minor brands of creed ; I am hazy as to the
true distinction between General and Particular
Baptists (though, perhaps, a Particuhir Baptist
uses soap) ; and I always mix up Sweden-
borgians with Irvirgites. It was a surprise
to Elsie to find that her form of faith seemed
to me a question of small import either way.
I hold that most men are human, and, still
more, most women. My tolerance astonished
her. When 1 suggested that perhaps at that
very minute Swedenborg and Irving, John
Knox and Thomas a Kempis, might perchance
be gazing down upon us with kindly eyes
and an amused smile from some sequestered
garden bench in one of the spacious pleasure-
grounds of the Celestial City, where they
sat in rapt converse with the soul of John
l62 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Glas, who first prospected her own strictly
provincial path to Paradise, she turned her
face to me with mingled delight and terror.
My view seemed to her sweet but highly
heterodox. She refused to her God a breadth
of sympathy which she instinctively admired
in a fellow-creature.
One evening I came home and found Elsie
at work on a piece of transcription which was
evidently too deep for her. It was poetr}',
she said, in an awed whisper : she had been
given it at the office under a promise of
secrecy. But the arrangement of the long
and short lines of complicated stanzas, which
needed some care in the adjustment of
margins, was evidently beyond her. She
looked tired and worried, and was mildly
tearful. " Besides, dear," she said, smooth-
ing my hair, " there are such difficult words
in it — words nobody could spell ; not even
you, I believe — such as myrrh with two r's
and an h. I can't manage them anyhow."
"Dictate to me," I said; "I can write for
a bit. I've not done much to-day, and I'm
hardly the least bit tired."
She dictated several strophes. I was not
surprised that she found the words hard.
" Chrysoprase " " mandragora," " anaglyph,"
FRESH LIGHT ON ROMEO. 163
" Libitina " — these lay some miles outside
poor little Elsie's vocabulary.
At first I noticed only the rare richness of
the language, the many-faceted words, set
like jewels so as to show their full beauty;
gradually, as she dictated, I began to be
aware that the verses she read aloud to me
in her infantile sing-song were not merely
rhyme but also poetry. I do not pretend to
the name of critic ; but I judged them to be
written with limpid felicity. They had that
artlessness which comes of the apt use of the
perfect word without show of effort. Each
noun and adjective fell so naturally into its
place that one fancied the writer could have
used no other— till one began to reflect that
only studious care results in so absolute a
sense of inevitability. And the poems were
statuesque ; they had none of the tropical
exuberance of our time ; they were Greek in
" Who is the author ? " I asked, curious to
know the name of the poet with this Ionic
note, new to our English Helicon.
" They didn't tell me. They wished me
not to know. He particularly desired that
his verses should be kept secret."
She went on dictating in her mechanical
1 64 THE TYPE- WRITER GIRL.
way. My hand struck the keys rapidly. At
last she paused, near the close of a curious
variant on the Spenserian stanza. " There's
a word I can't make out," she murmured.
"'True woman has the magic' some-
I took the manuscript from her hands.
" True woman has the magic Midas gift ;
Touched by her hand, dull clay transmutes to molten gold."
But that was not what made me give a
sudden cry of surprise, and then turn red as
a peony. The verses were written in Romeo's
hand. And Romeo was their author.
In a second I was buried in them, like a
bee in a crocus. I felt he was even more to
me than before. I had believed him a pub-
lisher; now I knew him a poet. No Barab-
bas, but a Byron.
How long I lay awake in my garret that
night — thinking of whom but of Romeo !
I TRY LITERATURE.
Next morning at lunch time, as I crossed
Long Acre, I caught a glimpse of Michaela,
in the gondola of London, steering rapidly
northward. A big summer hat, all wild roses
and gossamer, half hid her face, like a wuld
rose itself, pink and white and delicate.
At sight of me she recognised me, and
stopped her hansom short for a second to
grasp my hand. I was pleased at her remem-
brance. She had come from Waterloo, she
said, and was hurrying now to catch a train
at Euston. She looked radiantly happy ; I
told her so. Her face flushed with pleasure ;
she leaned forward and confided to me in a
thrilling whisper that she was to be married
in the autumn to the friend whom she had lost
on the day I first met her. I wished her joy,
and waved my hand. She vanished, smiling,
towards Euston and the Unknown, a phantom
once more among the flickering phantoms.
l66 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Happy at her happiness, I tripped back to
Flomeo's. She was an airy little thing of
gauze and bergamot, like a breath of fairy-
That afternoon Romeo's talk to me was
more human than usual. It was always plain
that he wan*-ed to talk, but a sense of the
official nature of our relation restrained him
often. To-day he spoke much of woman's
place in literature. So many women, he said,
wrote of life with a note of personality rare
among men. They put more heart in it.
Even squalor or crime grew less base when
they handled it.
Half unconsciously to myself, I murmured
under my breath,
"True woman has the magic Midas gift ;
Touched by her hand, dull clay transmutes to molten gold."
I murmured it quite low ; but he caught at
the words with a sharp gasp. " Where did
you see that ? " he asked quickly.
I was forced to confess, "The lines oc-
curred in some verses a little friend of mine
— I told you of her some days since — had for
copy yesterday from a type-writing office."
I tried not to let him know more ; but, for
a woman, I am a poor dissembler ; my colour
or the trembling of my lips betrayed me.
I TRY LITERATURE. 167
" Did you see the manuscript ? " he in-
"Yes ; I helped her to transcribe it."
" They promised secrecy ! " he cried.
" And you shall have it," I answered.
He paused a moment. " But yoti were
the last person I would have v/ished to see
them," he went on, his face twitching.
I knew why. In some of them an allusion, a
description — here, a blue-veined eyelid; there,
a gloss like a swallow's wing on a woman's
smooth hair — had seemed to me familiar.
He paced up and down the tawny carpet
for awhile. Then he broke out once more.
" I have written verse since I was a boy," he
said. " It has ever been my ambition to be
found worthy of the crown of poet. But if I
printed these lyrics under my own name, what
use ? I could but give a handle for Sidney
Trevelyan to ask in the Saturday Review ' Is
Barabbas also among the prophets?' Nobody
will take a publisher's rhymes seriously. So
I decided to issue mine under an assumed
name, and with another firm, that critics
might at least be rude to them on their merits.
For that purpose I had them type-written —
and not by you. I am sorry you have seen
1 68 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
"And I am glad," I answered. "You may
not care for my opinion ; but these verses are
masterpieces of handicraft. You have the rare
gift of reticence. Besides, you understand the
fitness of words ; you appreciate their melt-
ing shades of tcne ; you feel the emotional
atmosphere with which each is girdled."
" Thank you, " he said, checking himself.
" Andjj'c?» are o.ie of the few whose praise I
value. You speak well of my work for the
qualities I strive to have, not for those I know
I have not."
From that day forth he was much more at
home with me. You see, we shared a Secret
When his >'olume came out, several months
later, it made no stir in the world ; but it
gained the approbation of five or six out of the
twenty-three men and women in England who
love poetry It will yet be known, I think ;
for though the public often fiock together like
sheep after some noisy impostor, true poetry
is always forced upon them from above by
the chosen few who can discover and impose
it. The few are frequently obscure, and bear
no hall-mark ; but they know one another by
the two gifts which make a critic — insight
1 TRY LITERATURE. 169
My knowledge of this book drew me nearer
to Romeo. Having once accepted the fact
that I knew of his work, he consulted me time
and again as to type and paper — sometimes
also as to the choice of an epithet or a point
of cadence, when two equally-balanced alter-
natives divided his preference. Should it be
lurid or livid ? was ruddy or russet the better?
This led us into talks not altogether official.
Though always reticent, he began to treat me
less as a type-writer and more as a woman.
This quality of reticence, which I observed
in Romeo's self no less than in his work,
impressed me profoundly. I admired his
quiet strength, his calm, his urbanity. I am
not urbane myself, and I fear I must grant
that I am rather vehement than strong; there-
lore I respected all the more these traits in
Romeo. One honours one's complement
above one's counterpart. He never spoke
strongly; he reserved strength for action. A
week or two after Sidney Trevelyan's visit I
asked him one day whether the cheap edition
of "Mahatmas" was going forward. He smiled
his restrained smile, and answered, " No,
certainly not ; I never intended it."
" But Mr. Trevelyan was so urgent, so
instant ; he had quite made up his mind."
170 THE TVI'E-WKITKK CilRL.
" Yes ; that is unimportant. The moment
had not arrived, and 1 told him so, cahnly.
He is a rock when opposed ; but cahnness,
like faith, can move mountains. I did not
oppose him at the time ; opposition just then
could only have irritated him. I saw the
state of his soul ; he came to me, seething
internally with suppressed wrath at the
critics. I let him blow off steam ; in such
circumstances I judge it unwise to sit upon
the safety-valve. lie opened his heart and
had it out, flinging many hard jibes at me
and at the public. That relieved the tension.
I let three days pass ; then I wrote an ulti-
matum, stating quietly what I thought. He
gave in at once. The cheap edition shall not
appear till the autumn."
Such masculine absence of fussiness pleased
Once or twice when I discussed with him
he asked me seriously why I had never
written. I laughed off his assault. He re-
turned to the charge ; so much racy material
going to waste in my own adventures. I
told him of my work among the East-End
slop-makers ! " Ready-made stories," was his
verdict. I doubted my own faculty. He was
sure I possessed it.
T TkV LITKRATUKK. r;!
Tliis encouraged me to narrate my ex-
perience at Pinfold. " Anarchists ! — and
they blamed me because I could not fall in
love to order ! "
"You are an intrepid young lady," Romeo
said. " Do you know, I doubt if you quite
realise always in what galleys you have
"I think I do," I answered : "but I have
confidence in myself and my guardian angel."
He urged me to try my hand at a short
story of the modern girl who earns her own
living in London — "for example, this little
friend who uses your type-writer," he added
with a clever side-thrust ; I was grateful to
him for thus diverting the theme from my
own personality : " there is no more pathetic
figure in our world to-day than the common
figure of the poor young lady, crushed be-
tween classes above and below, and left with
scarce a chance of earning her bread with
" I fear," I said, " I have no knack of
pathos ; even at difficult turns I am apt to
see rather the humorous than the tragic side
" So I note. But why not try ; your own
late adventures, for instance ? "
172 THK TYPK-WKITKR CilRL.
I felt that that romance had not yet
reached its dcnou})iciit ; but I refrained from
telling him so. I promised to make an
attempt, however, with one of my earlier
East-Knd reminiscences, or else with a little
vignette of the infant anarchists, unsullied
by soap, pulling Commissioner Lin's tail,
while their sisters turned the House that
Jack built into Czech and Yiddish.
For a week or two I worked hard in my
stray moments at this my poor little literary
first-born. I put its phrases in curl-papers
till I was sick of twisting them. When it
was ripe for the birth, I confess I thought
meanly of it. Mine own, but a poor thing, to
reverse Touchstone's saying : I brought it
to Romeo, trembling. He read it and was
enthusiastic. For the first time now I felt
sure he really cared for me ; what else could
so have blinded his critical faculty ? For he
was a judicious reader.
He praised it as if it were the work ol
a consummate artist. His encouragement was
unstinted. I will not repeat what he said as
to my style ; you, who are reading my second
effort in that line, would be painfully aware
how much personal partiality must have
warped his judgment.
I TRY LITERATURE. I73
" It is SO breezy," he said. " You write
" I learnt it on the moors, among the
whins," I answered.
" This eclogue must go into the magazine ! "
he cried ; for, like most other great houses,
the firm published one of its own.
I drew a line at that. " Oh, no," I cried,
flushing. "You are too kind, too generous.
I will not allow it to be printed where —
where personal acquaintance and your recom-
mendation may disturb the editor's calmer
opinion. I must send it to someone else.
Then it will be weighed for what it is worth,
and if it is accepted, I shall know on what
" But I shall be sorry to lose it," he ex-
claimed ; " for the magazine's own sake.
When one discovers a new writer, one
wishes to keep the full credit of the dis-
I looked down to hide my burning cheeks.
" No, no," I said firmly. " You are too
flattering — too good. Your" — ^I paused to
think how I could best word it; "your
knowledge of me predisposes you too much
in my favour."
He looked at me and hesitated. " Not my
174 THE TVPE-WRITER GIRL.
knowledge alone," he corrected; "my . . .
friendship, my "
He did not say " affection " ; but we raised
our eyes in unison ; and in a flash of those
eyes each knew that he meant it.
There was a long pause. I was aware ot
my heart, which called attention to its ex-
istence by a violent throbbing. I went back
to my machine and began typing mechani-
cally. Then he added all at once, " But quite
apart from that, I ivmit this story ; I want
the honour of publishing it, because I see it
is a good one."
I went on clicking. " You cannot sepa-
rate these things," I said, without look-
ing up. " A person is a totality. We
do not knoW; ourselves, how much of any
feeling is due to this cause, and how much to
that. Nothing ever goes wholly free from
either fear or favour. But I have made up
my mind. I shall send it to The Pimlico.'"
I sent it in the end ; and, to my great joy,
not unmixed with surprise, the editor ac-
cepted it, in a chastening letter. He did not
say, like Romeo, " a gem cf English " ; he
called it on the contrary, "high-spirited if
flippant"; but he printed it none the less, and
forwarded me a cheque for twelve guineas.
I TRY LITERATURE. 1 75
Twelve guineas ! Such wealth seemed to
me almost incredible. I felt like an Argo-
Still, Romeo was vexed. "We ought to
have had it," he said; "for, after all, you
were my discovery."
A DRAWN BATTLE.
It was about this time, if I recollect aright
(for / am the girl who does not keep a diary),
that Romeo invited me to dinner.
I have two reasons for my avoidance of the
besetting sin of diary-writing. The first is
that I am usually dog-tired with work when
evening comes, so that to ask me to fill in a
journal with the day's events is like asking a
galley-slave to take a scull in a pleasure-boat
after his toil is over. The second is that
if you keep no diary it cannot be used in
evidence against you. As yet, 'tis true, by
rigid self-exam.ination, I have steered clear
of capital crimes ; but I remember always
Ophelia's wise saw, " We know what we
are; we know not what we may be."
Romeo invited me with caution, and teiita-
tively. He began by remarking, as if for no
special reason, that he was giving a dinner
next week at the Savoy — a dinner devised for
A DRAWN BATTLE. 1/7
a particular purpose. Then he added after a
while that his mother would be there. This to
inspire confidence, dear fellow ! as though I
ever doubted him. Next he inquired in a rather
timid voice whether, if his mother picked me
up by the way in her brougham, 1 would mind
joining the party. " My mother has not called
upon you yet," he murmured in an apologetic
parenthesis, looking up at me askance from
under his ridged eyebrows with an interro-
gative lid ; " but — perhaps you would waive
that." From the way he said it I could read
much. I felt instinctively she was a black-satin
old lady of the straightest sect ; Romeo had
implored her to call ; she had refused point-
blank to go and see a type-writer girl who
lived in one room in an impossible street in
Soho. Romeo had begged and prayed ; the
mother had presented the true stiff neck of the
black-satin order. Then Romeo had planned
this dinner as a means of introducing me, con-
fident (dear boy) that if once we were brought
together, his mother — well, would think as
much of me as he did. Poor purblind
Romeo ! I pitied him for that. How little
had he fathomed black-satin psychology !
I hesitated a moment. Not on Romeo's
account, nor even on the mother's — I do not
178 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
fear the smoothest black satin ; but because of
the mere material difficulty of a gown, which
just at first rose insuperable. Otherwise I
thought so much of Romeo now — he had
begun to play so large a part in the unwritten
dramas of my future with which I lulled my-
self to sleep — that I felt at all costs I must be
present at this dinner and face the mother.
A mother is almost inevitable ; the sooner one
gets over her, like measles, the better.
I had one evening dress, or the ghost of
one, which had descended to me from the
days when I was a lady. Its sleeves carried
date ; but the bodice and skirt were of that
fanciful kind which is above the fashion, and
therefore never either in it or out of it. The
colour was sweet — white, shot with faint
streaks of the daintiest pink, like the first
downy stage of budding willow catkins. On
the other hand, I was still in mourning for
my dear father. Had I loved him less I
should have shrunk from wearing that gown ;
but my sorrow was not of the sort that
measures itself by yards of crape, which is
why I have troubled you with it so little in
this narrative. I reflected a moment ; then I
answered, "Yes ; it will give me great plea-
A DRAWN BATTLE. 179
That it gave Romeo great pleasure was
visibly written on iiis face. He liad expected
a no, and was delighted at my acceptance. I
knew by his eyes he had anticipated and even
exaggerated the dress difficulty. I did not
misinterpret his pleased look, however. I
never thought Romeo was in love with me ; I
knew he was interested in me, both per-
sonally and as a possible authoress ; and I
saw he wished much to bring me officially
into his mother's circle. More than that, I
did not believe, or rather, if I am to tell you
the precise truth, 1 thought Romeo was fall-
ing in love with me by slow steps, but mis-
taking his love for mere interest and friendli-
For a week I was a woman, not merely a
type-writer. I worked hard at that gown,
first planning, then executing my alterations.
Dear little Elsie helped me with it like a
Trojan. Nay, in cutting out and fitting she
displayed or developed unexpected talent.
When dress was in question she was no
longer stupid ; the woman in her grew ; she
showed taste and skill ; indeed, I have noted
in life, throughout, that taste has no necessary
connection, direct or inverse, with intelligence
or stupidity ; it is a native endowment which
l80 THE TYI'E-WRITER GIRL.
may break out anywhere. She was glad it was
a dinner, not a dance ; her religious opinions
would not have sanctioned her assisting me
with a ball-dress. But all sects alike ap-
prove the habit of feeding. I must admit that
when it came to the details of my gown she
showed herself at once moA frankly worldly.
Elsie had little chance of making dresses for
herself, poor child; but she aided me with her
needle and her advice till I was truly grateful.
The way she reorganised the sleeves to a
Parisian model made one believe in alchemy.
We spent a few shillings on new tulle and
lining. Every evening we had an orgy of
dressmaking : whole packets of pins, snippets
of silk on the floor. Before the end of the
week we had transformed that old gown of
mine into a joy for ever. It was better than
new ; as it fell in soft folds the blush showed
on the ridge and cream-white in the hollows.
When I tried it on, Elsie bent over me enrap-
tured. "You dear thing!" she cried, hugging
me (to the danger of the tulle), " I always
knew you were pretty, but I never knew till
now you were splendidly beautiful."
And I will honestly admit that the frock
The day arrived at last. Elsie came round
A DRAWN ISATTLE. l8l
to help me dress my hair Wc made more of
this dinner than I should have made of being
presented in the days of my grandeur — such
as it was. Dear little Elsie had brought me
some flowers from a friend's garden at Ealing,
choice sweet-scented flowers, with a back-
ground of maidenhair. If I had believed her,
I would have thought no fairy princess ever
looked more radiant than 1 looked that even-
ing; and, indeed, our joint efforts on the gown
repaid us with interest. When the last touch
had been given Elsie kissed me on both
cheeks. " He will propose to-nigiit," she
whispered. " I know he will : he can't help
himself, dear. You are so captivating!" I
blushed, for I had never mentioned his name
to Elsie; but then, I forgot that Elsie too was
At ten minutes to eight the brougham
arrived at the door. Never before had our
street beheld so distinguished an equipaj^e.
This was unfortunate, for the children next
door came to gaze at me with dirty faces and
unaffected interest, exclaiming, "Oh, my, don't
she look a reel lidy ?" as I made a rush for the
Romeo's mother was precisely what 1
had painted her — a Lady Montague of the
1 82 THE TVPE-WRITLR GIRL.
severest, with coffee-coloured point-lace, a
Cornelia one shade too stout for the mother
of the Gracchi. Her smooth white hair
looked not gentle, but forbidding; she listened
to what I said with well-bred reserve: too stiff
to acquiesce, too polite to contradict, too stony
to show interest.
At the hotel, we were ushered into a hand-
some private room, most gracefully decorated
with crimson arabesques on white panelling.
The party consisted of Romeo and his mother
with some six or eight more (including a pre-
bendary), among whom the chief guests
seemed to be a certain amiable-faced Lady
Donisthorpe and her husband, Sir Everard.
I name them in this order, for though the
husband was a man of some force and character
— early English, comfortable — Lady Donis-
thorpe, like Paul, was the chief speaker. She
seemed what is called "a womanly woman "
— one of those tranquil women with soft,
rounded outlines, who look like wax, but
within are flint. She reminded me most of
all of a pouter pigeon.
She apologised much because dear Meta
could not come. It was such a disappoint-
ment. The poor child had been taken ill —
nothing serious she was glad to say — but im-
A DRAWN HATTLE. 183
possible to go out. She hoped Romeo would
excuse her. Romeo expressed most courteous
regret at dear Meta's enforced absence; though
1, who knew him now so well, and was used
at the office to note the varying degrees of
cordiality or boredom in his reception of
authors, inferred at once from his eyes that
he was somewhat relieved at heart by dear
Meta's non-appearance. It was clear to me,
too, that Lady Donisthorpe flung Meta in-
artistically at his head ; twenty times during
the evening she referred with a rigid smile
and a pufT of the pouter bust to one of dear
Meta's sweet ways or to something delightful
that dear Meta had said or done for some-
body. The impression she left upon me was
that Meta must be an insipid paragon, with
all the virtues and their concomitant insup-
portability. Romeo's absent smile at each
such advertisement of Meta's charming quali-
ties— " so gentle," "so unaffected" — made
me feel convinced that he was of the same
To put it plainly, Lady Donisthorpe showed
want of tact in her crude mode of placarding
She had another trick Oi '-nanner which
disturbed my peace of mind ; like most of the
1^4 THE TVPE-WRITKk fllKL.
iK-wly-LMirichecl, she attached an excessive
importance to the after all somewhat negative
quality of ladylikencss. The highest praise
she could accord to each aciiromatically
charming girl of her accpiaintance was that
of being " a perfect lady." She flung the
phrase in my teeth. Apart from the fact that
it seems to imply a somewhat narrow standard,
I always suspect women who insist upon
this point of being themselves otton-backed
I knew her type : she belonged to an
aristocracy recruited by the names of all the
best-known brands of beer, soap, and whis-
I protest, however, that just at first I began
by treating Romeo's mother and Lady Donis-
thorpe with the utmost cordiality. For had 1
not good reasons for desiring to conciliate
them ? But their treatment chilled me. I
could see they had come prepared to dislike
me for a conceited upstart. In return, I soon
found I disliked their texture. Cornelia was
cold ; I felt she regarded my humour as ill-
timed. Lady Donisthorpe had the vulgar
fear of vulgarity. I do not share it ; nature
is vulgar enough ; we can only be " perfect
ladies " on the Donisthorpe pattern by shut-
A nUAWN KATTLK. 185
ting our eyes, shutting our cars, and shutting
our noses to most things around us. Now, I
will not shut my eyes nor my mouth either.
If facts obtrude themselves, I recognise them.
I fear Lady Donisthorpe thought it painfully
unladylike of me to have lived in the East-
Knd, and positively rude to tell stories of
slop-makers. She raised her tortoise-shell
glasses at the very word as a mute protest.
In fine, both were conscious of a social
barrier. So was I — with a difference. Lady
Donisthorpe moved in what calls itself "good
society," but genteel would have been scarce
too hard a word to describe her.
Romeo's mother swept in to dinner on Sir
Everard's arm, a three-decker under full sail.
Romeo offered me his ; I gathered it was
because Meta hnJ not arrived as expected.
Always handsome, he looked handsomer in
evening dress. A waxy white flower lay on
each plate: Romeo pinned mine on my bodice.
Lady Donisthorpe's placid eyes did not let
the action pass unnoticed.
The dinner —by which you shall understand
the food — was the best I ever tasted. The
champagne, in the judgment of one who is no
judge, was a thought too dry, but delicious.
The mousse dc jamboii was an epicure's dream.
1 86 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
I really enjoyed myself. Besides, I was
conscious that Romeo liked my dress and felt
some mild surprise to see how well I looked
in it. He had hitherto known me in my black
office gown alone. I forgot my poverty and
was once more a lady.
It suits me better. I blossom under it. I
did not even object to Sir Everard for being a
millionaire; it was hardly his fault; million-
aires, after all, are an outcome of the age :
one can but regret that they absorb its income.
Lady Donisthorpe's talk leeked of wealth till
I felt it would be dviiightful to get home at
night and spc somethmg cheap again. My
seat VvdS between Romeo and a clever young
man, with keen eyes and pince-nez, a rising
physiologist. It relieved me to learn he was
not an electrical engineer ; all the young men
I used to meet in my prae-type-writing days
had been given over to riotous electrical
engineering. My neighbour's hobby was a
cheerful one — the identity of genius and mad-
ness. He took Paradise Lost and the Vatican
frescoes for premonitory symptoms of acute
mania ; he held the steam-engine to be a by-
product of the insane temperament. Yet he
urged his thesis so well that, on his own
showing, I foresaw he must be qualifying
A DRAWN BATTLE. 1 8/
for residence in an asylum. Wi-.en I told him
so, he cavilled at my graceful compliment.
To escape his retort, I turned to the other
side and joined talk with Romeo and the pre-
bendary. I do not know what a prebendary
does ; his functions are more mysterious than
even the archidiaconal ; but I have said I
love mystery ; and I found the prebendary a
Romeo was charming, as always — more
charming to me that night, I fancied, than
ever. Perhaps it was because he had never
seen me dressed like a human being before ;
but also, I think, he was conscious of his
mother's keen eyes and Lady Donisthorpe's
steely glance ; smiling ever her set smile, she
felt Meta's chances were slipping from her
visibly. She was an ox-eyed Hera, a little
run to seed, and now almost cow-faced, but
cat-like in her watchfulness. To counteract
the chilling effect of the two mothers — one a
feather-bed, the other a poker — and to put
me at my ease, Romeo behaved with the
sweetest courtes3^ He talked to me ; he
drew me out; if I ever can be brilliant (which
'tis not for me to judge) I was brilliant that
evening. I flashed to my own surprise ;
Romeo's admiration, and the two elder
1 88 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
women's scarcely concealed hostility, put me
on my mettle.
I was not angry with his mother ; it was
comprehensible, of course ; mothers are made
like that. We erect each other into a class,
and judge accordingly. Could any woman
with an aquiline nose, and white hair neatly
dressed by an immaculate maid, sit by unper-
turbed while her only son paid open court to
a type-writer girl ? I suppose I should have
felt as she did, had I been put in her place.
Being put in my own, I naturally did my best
to let myself be seen to the greatest advan-
So did Romeo. Having brought me there,
he was determined I should be treated with
proper respect. He insisted on talking to
me; Lady Donisthorpe's cat-like graciousness,
Cornelia's Roman austerity, only increased
his anxiety to do me honour. The more his
mother froze, the more Lady Donisthorpe,
smiling her mechanical smile, and gently
crushing, raised her tortoise-shell eye-glasses
to decide whether I was human, the more did
Romeo draw me out, and the more did I
scintillate, till at last all the table was talking
to me or listening to me. I laughed and
raised laughter; I ^ sparkled and parried.
A DRAWN BATTLE. 1 89
When Lady Donisthorpe interposed sweetly,
"And so you type-write at the office! How
fatiguing it must be ! " on purpose to discon-
cert me, I had my repartee ready : " At least
it preserves me from being a perfect lady."
I could see Romeo was pleased. I was a
social success. I had justified his temerity.
In the midst of our fencing, of a sudden,
Cornelia drew out a gold pencil, wrote some-
thing on a card, and handed it across to him.
Romeo glanced at it and crumpled it up ; I
could guess by his face her note had not
pleased him. "As you will," he answered
across the table ; then he turned to me once
more. "That was delicious,' he said; "and
what did you reply to him ?"
I went on with my story. Still, I could
gather that he was annoyed ; not only annoyed,
indeed, but perplexed and troubled. Dinner
solemnised, we withdrew to the comfortable
divans of the balcony for Turkish coffee. All
the party crowded round me, save the two
mammas ; they did not sit apart, but, joining
our group, they preserved an austere moral
aloofness. The rest, however, redeemed their
abstention. Even Sir Everard was untrue to
poor Meta's chances. I was flushed by this
time, and the men's eyes told me I was look-
IQO THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
ing my prettiest. The two other girls of the
party chimed in and encouraged me. So did
the prebendary ; I talked easily and brightly.
Sir Everard laughed again and again at my
sallies. He was a portly old gentleman with
a massive white waistcoat, very like a toad as
he leaned back on the ottoman. His voice,
too, was a purr; he was a toad, not a natter-
But Romeo had stolen away to give some
mysterious orders. I felt rather than saw
that something had gone wrong somewhere
with the machinery.
We were to adjourn to a theatre. We
drove round in state. Our stalls were near
the centre; Lady Donisthorpe in claret-
coloured velvet looked truly imposing. In
one of the interludes I looked round at the
pit. Directly behind me, in the front row,
sat a foxey-headed man staring open-eyed
towards me. It was the Grand Vizier, accom-
panied by a lady (no doubt "with brains")
and concealing but imperfectly the fact that
he had been dining.
For a moment — a rare moment — I felt
really disconcerted. Under any other circum-
stances it would only have amused me had
the Vizier leaned forward and shouted, " Good
A DRAWN BATTLE. I9I
evening, miss," in his own dialect. But to-
night, with the eyes of those two mothers
fixed stonily on my face, I confess I trembled
lest he should rise in his seat, wave one hairy
hand, and call out loudly across the inter-
vening rows, " Allow me to introduce my fee-
on-say to you. Miss Appleton!" 1 looked
away hastily, not before he had caught my
eye. I expected to see his goggle eyes fall
out and drop upon the floor : he was so
evidently surprised at my transfigured appear-
ance. The last time he had parted from me
it was beneath the golden symbol of St.
Nicholas at the shop in the Strand ; to light
upon me there that night, dressed like a lady,
surrounded by a little court, made much of by
the men, and flushed from the Savoy, might
naturally astonish him.
However, he behaved with better taste
than I could have anticipated. He nudged
his companion, and whispered in her ear,
but kept his face averted. He was puzzled,
I felt sure ; still he had sense enough to know
that this greeting would be ill-timed, and
good feeling enough to prevent him from
forcing himself upon my notice.
When the play was over Romeo led me to
the door. I was still hot and uncertain. So
192 THE TVPE-WRITER GIRL.
far as he was concerned this evening was for
me a great triumph ; every man and woman
there, save only the two mothers, had paid
me much attention, and, I will even venture
to add, admired me. I had looked and talked
my best, and I was satisfied with my per-
formance. But the two elder women hung
like black clouds lowering in the rear ; 1
could feel them disapproving of me with
various degrees of rancour. One feared for
her son, the other for her daughter.
Very natural, I knew ; but so too was my
own attitude. No woman is born to be merely
At the door Romeo led me by myself into
a well-appointed brougham. Then I knew
what had happened. Cornelia had written
across to him that she declined to take me
back in her carriage to Soho ; and Romeo, to
save me the knowledge of that slight, had
slipped away at the hotel, and ordered another
carriage to await me at the theatre. He held
my hand in his own for a brief space after he
put me into it.
"It was so good of you to come," he said.
" I have so much enjoyed this talk with you."
But the two mothers hardly gave me the
tips of their fingers, and bowed distantly
A DRAWN BATTLE. 1 93
as I drove away alone, with chilly polite-
When I got back to my room my feelings
were mixed. The jealous Gods thus alloy
our triumphs. Romeo had seen me at last as
I really was. But I had innocently disturbed
the peace of two families.
I did what every other woman would have
done in my place — sat down to a good cry
and thought about Romeo.
AN AUTUMN HOLIDAY.
I HAVE large estates in Hertfordshire and the
adjoining counties, free of land tax. Some
noble marquis, I am assured, lays claim to
the bare loam, the ploughed fields, the
turnips; but who counts mere mud? The
rest is mine, to do as I will with. He may
keep his rents : 'tis for me to enjoy the green
lawns, the huge buttressed beech-trees, the
broad circles of shade where drowsy sheep
lie huddled : I own the stripling streams that
break agamst sharp stones in the sloping
stickles, or expand on the shallows between
into placid pools, skimmed over by water-
beetles who dart and dance nimbly in inter-
lacing whirligigs. The sky overhead is
mine, mine the road under foot ; the scent
of rain-wetted earth ; the broken song of the
thrushes, the startled scream of the jay as he
bursts through the rustling oak-leaves, the
long sweep of the swift launching himself on
AN AUTUMN HOLIDAY. 1 95
the air from the battlements of the church-
tower. All these I own, by virtue of my
freehold in the saddle of my bicycle.
Such a Sabine farm costs nought to
manage ; it gives pure delight without counter-
poise of trouble. I visited mine often, both
on summer evenings and on Saturday after-
noons or Sundays. Early in my time at
Romeo's a whimsical fancy seized me (being
ever irresponsible) to spend my Sabbath
mornings in such churches within easy reach
of London as were dedicated to my chosen
ally, St. Nicholas. I ran them down with
care in an Anglican Directory. If the day
were doubtful, I strayed no farther afield
than to St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, in the
City, where in a dark bay of the aisle I
prayed the prayer now nearest to my heart,
which I leave you to guess. Often as my
patron had failed me at a pinch, still oftener
had he proved kind ; I was prepared to give
him one more chance of distinguishing him-
self. But if the day promised to be fair,
I got under weigh betimes, and was spinning
down the roads that lead northward out
of town while the smocked milkman still
stood balanced by frothing pails in the
meadows. London lay, a vast blur, behind
196 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
me. Cows on the common chewed the cud
of penury. Their eye was pensive. Com-
missioner Lin showed a nasty Jack-in-office
disposition to disturb them. He was called
to heel with difficulty. Then I would seek
some country church, with low tower and
wooden lych-gate, where St. Nicholas still
bore sway, spite of iconoclast or Puritan,
to pour out my heart's wish to I know not
what Power that compels the universe.
It was my wont to lean the bicycle mean-
while against the churchyard yew or some
convenient tombstone, leaving the Com-
missioner in charge. He was well fitted for
the task by his unregenerate monopolist views
on private property, backed up by a fine row
of persuasive white arguments.
These weekly trips made me careless of
holiday. I waited to take my summer outing
till it should suit Romeo's convenience. I
was so much his personal secretary that
I must delay my vacation till he could take
his; and it had long been arranged that he
should put it off till late September — his
partner having desired to go away in August.
Romeo never alluded again to that evening
at the Savoy ; but I knew it had brought him
nought but disappointment. He had desired
AN AUTUMN HOLIDAY. I97
to include me within his mother's sphere, and
Cornelia, gathering up her Roman robe, had
declined. Yet from that time he was more
deferential and more courteous, if possible,
than even his wont.
It was decided that his holiday should
begin on the fifteenth of September. As the
time drew near, Romeo grew visibly distressed
and depressed. The spring failed in his
step. I fancied he was suffering some in-
ternal conflict. His manner was distraught;
he sat at times as if he hardly heard what
was passing. It was plain to see he was
struggling within himself ; irreconcilable
feelings drew him alternately in opposite
On the fourteenth he came down to the
office as usual, but sat gloomy and moody.
He did not tell us whither he was bound :
nay, more, he gave orders that no letters
should follow him. He made some mys-
tery of his destination. At three o'clock he
went home, bidding me good-bye with more
reserve than was his wont. He kept his
glance averted. I could see he was fighting
hard to avoid breaking down. This holiday
must mean much to him. He could not look
me in the face to bid me good-bye. The
198 THE TYFE-WRITER GIRL.
tremor of his eyelids was as of one who holds
back tears with difficulty. I wished him
a pleasant trip. He answered a hurried
" Thank you," and rushed out to his carriage.
If I had known where he was going I
think I should have followed him.
As the thought passed through my mind,
Puck came in for some money out of hand.
It was my duty to keep the petty cash for
Romeo's personal office expenditure. " I
want nine shillings, miss," the boy said ;
"Baedeker's 'North Italy' and Hare's
My heart gave a quick bound. I had sur-
prised his objective. I am an erratic creature.
In one second my mind was made up. I
should follow him.
I had still the twelve guineas I had re-
ceived for my story. Thank heaven, I am
improvident. The bourgeois vice of thrift is
one from which my family has never suffered :
the Puritan blood in our veins must have
been too generously diluted. Besides, have
I not learned from more modern political
economy that saving is the source of all the
evils of capitalism? — and do I not give thanks
daily that I show not the faintest tendency to
develop in that direction ? I have made up
AN AUTUMN HOLIDAY. 1 99
my mind never to be a capitalist ; and, up to
date, I see every chance of my keeping my
resolution. So I decided to spend my twelve
guineas like a man, to please myself, leaving
Providence or St. Nicholas to make good the
deficiency. This is called faith, and is a car-
I gave Romeo two clear days* start, lest I
should travel along with him and seem to be
dogging him ; then I set out alone on my
way to Venice.
I am nothing, if not frank. Therefore I do
not seek to deny the truth that I went to
Italy on purpose to follow Romeo.
" Unwomanly ! " you say. What a false
Yes, I am always frank ; I think the day
has almost come for frankness. Men novelists
have depicted us as men wish us to be ; we
have meekly and obediently accepted their
portrait : to some extent, even, we have
striven, against the grain, to model ourselves
upon it. A man's ideal is the girl that
shrinks ; the sweetly unconscious girl, who
scarce knows she loves, till his strong arm
glides round her, and he clasps her to his
heart : then, with a sudden awakening, she
awakens to the truth, and knows she has
200 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
loved him long, loved him from the beginning.
That, I say, is a man's woman. Her purity,
her maidenly modesty, are quite unapproach-
able by concrete feminine humanity. She is
too delicate in mind ever to dream that she
can love spontaneously, of her own mere
motion. She loiters in the shade ; she waits
to be wooed ; she is coy, undecided, shrink-
There was a time, I suppose, when such
women were common. I do not know — for
have I not Shakespeare to the contrary ?
But the type was once true, I dare say,
and widely distributed. Still, has not time
altered it ? In the world in which we live
men are no longer ardent. We scarce affect
to conceal the fact that they grow shy of
marriage. As a necessary consequence,
women have changed too ; the woman of this
age often knows she loves, knows it poig-
nantly, breathlessly, and must use those
weapons which the world allows her if she
would gain the affection of the man who has
taken her maiden fancy. She cannot by open
means pursue him, I admit ; but she has re-
course to the immemorial feminine devices of
ruse and stratagem.
I have Shakespeare on my side, I say.
AN AUTUMN HOLIDAY. 201
because I remember Rosalind. A man drew
her; yet I see in her pure woman. She
loves ; she knows she loves ; she longs
frankly for her lover. And that is the way
with women as I have found them.
Why did I follow Romeo ? Why did
Roralind fly to the forest of Arden ? Only
once — scarcely once — had Romeo seen me
as I was : that evening of the dinner. At the
office, what was I but the type-writer girl ?
If I could meet him in Italy, he would know
me as myself; we could talk more freely ; he
might pluck up heart of grace to break the
ice, and tell me he loved me.
For I knew he was fond of me. I could
not now doubt it. When he talked to me, it
was with those unmistakable sidelong glances
which a woman's heart can interpret. Often
he broke off suddenly. But his mother was
against me ; his mother wished him to marry
Lady Donisthorpe's dear Meta. In London,
I knew, I had little chance to prevail over
that perfect lady. But in Venice — ah, what
miracles may not happen in Venice!
Mirage of the lagoons, yt u show men
I had not set foot in the enchanted city
si'ice my father took me when I was a girl of
202 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
sixteen ; but I remembered it well ; I knew
every refluent ditch of it. I could have found
my way, on foot, through little aimless lanes
that wander in and out, from the Piazza to
If Romeo met me there by accident — if we
loitered together among those churches and
galleries — if I told him of my saints, if I
pointed him out my best-beloved pictures,
surely the struggle within him would be
settled in my favour. He would prefer my
wayward Gypsy-American fantasy to dear
Meta's insipid graces of the perfect lady. He
would know which he preferred, in spite
of his mother and Lady Donisthorpe's crude
M3' one regret was, that I could not take
Mr. Commissioner and Elsie with me
"O, ROMEO, ROMEO!"
When Linnaeus first saw gorse in blossom
he fell on his knees and thanked God. Our
modern Pharisees, who say grace before
meat, never, I fancy, say grace before Venice.
And yet there is only one Venice.
From the moment you arrive in the dusk
at the station, and stroll down slippery steps
to your gondola, to glide with stealthy move-
ment along the lesser canals, under mysterious
bridges where mysterious bystanders lean
over to watch you, unknown forms that creep
from dark doors in unknown streets — do you
not thank God, like Linnaeus, that he has
brought you to Venice ? And does not this
feeling of gratitude and wonder for that living
romance deepen on you each day that you
remain ? Do you not long to float for ever
down those noiseless ways, to gaze up for
ever at those water-stained palaces, to dream
for all time among those innocent-faced St.
204 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Ursulas ? Mint, anise, and cumin, indeed,
when God has given us Venice ! The
country or the south ! I pine in London.
I had loitered on my way out, breaking my
nights at Lucerne and Milan, that Romeo
might have time to reach his journey's end
with certainty before my arrival. And on my
first morning of freedom by the motionless
lagoons, I set out early to renew my acquain-
tance with Venice.
1 did not know where Romeo was stopping;
nor did I seek to find out. I left everything
to St. Nicholas. If chance should throw me
in my Romeo's way, well and good ; if chance
chose to be unkind, better so than that I
should track him. Besides, in Venice, you
cannot long fail to meet whoever else is there.
All the world gravitates towards the centre
of the Piazza. Sooner or later, you must
needs cross the path of everyone in the
I set out from my hotel on foot ; I love
footing it in Venice ; I love the intricate
tangle of narrow paved alleys, overhung by
stone sills and rusty iron balconies, by which
the walker threads his way through the mazes
of the city. Millionaires in gondolas never
know it. You must ramble to see Venice.
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 20$
Past little dim shops where red water-melons,
sliced open, and strings of yellow carrots
adorn the slabs ; past odours of salt fish and
rank whiffs of garlic ; past cavernous recesses
where, from murky Tintoretto-like gloom, the
light of a little lamp just serves to throw up
the tinsel crown of Our Lady. So suddenly
at once, under the columns of a portico, into
the open sky of the great square, the thronging
turmoil of pigeons, the liberal flood of southern
sunshine, the strong shadow of the campanile
flung like a fallen obelisk on the floor of the
Piazza, the mighty flagstaff's of the dead
republic, and beyond them all, low and squat,
a riot of white domes, the fantastic, many-
pinnacled carven front of St. Mark's, glowing
golden in the pellucid air of morning.
I stood still and drew a deep breath. It
was even as I thought. Grace before St.
Mark's: " For what we are about to re-
ceive " There is but one Venice.
Holding my breath all the while, I drew
near the great porches, with their round-
arched tops, and gazed up at the mosaics.
My soul steeped herself in beauty. I revelled
in an orgy of jasper and porphyry. How
gross to give thanks for beef and pudding,
but none for Carpaccio, Bellini, Titian !
2o6 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Slowly, out of the great dream of form and
colour, bit by bit, as 1 gazed, distinct visions
framed themselves — palm-leaves and lilies,
robed shapes of angels, half-translucent ala-
baster shafts or capitals, rich foliage of
acanthus, wandering lines of tracery. In the
midst of it all, one little relief held my eye at
last — aflat relief of quaint Romanesque work-
manship, beautiful with the winning beauty of
infantile art; two birds that faced one another,
and pecked at a bunch of grapes — when, all
at once, 1 was aware of a start of surprise
beside me. I turned round. My heart flut-
tered for a second. It was Romeo.
Venice faded. Though I had come out to
him, I was taken aback at his presence.
He gave a little gasp. " What, you here,"
he faltered out — " Miss Appleton — Juliet ? "
"Yes," I answered assuming an air of uncon-
cern ; " I thirsted for a breath of Italy again.
It is nearly five years since I have been out
" But — this is fate ! " he blurted out. " I —
I came here — to avoid you."
I was in a mischievous mood. " I can go
away again," I answered, looking deep into
his eyes, and half curtseying. " It is not for
me to interfere with my employer's holiday."
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 20/
He cast me an imploring look. "Juliet,"
he cried, " do not jest. Do not break my
heart. This is no time for pleasantry. My
child, my child, I have suffered."
I saw it in his face. And yet I could not
conceive what was his trouble. Could a
mother count for so much ? I had never
known mine. " You look ill," I said ; " so
different from what you looked last week in
London. Can I do anything for you ? I — I
will really go away — at once — if you desire it."
He restrained himself with an effort from
seizing my hands, then and there, in the
open Piazza. " Go azvay ? " he cried. " Go
aivay ? No, that is not my trouble. I wish
you not to go away. I wish you to stay with
me always. Juliet, you must have guessed
it ; you must have known it in London. Do
not tell me you did not know. You saw that
I loved you ! "
" I thought so, at times," I answered in a
very low voice. " But — why then did you
wish to run away from me ? "
He glanced about him with uneasy eyes.
"Now this has come," he burst forth, "I
must fight it out boldly. I must face it like a
man. Juliet, where can we go? I must talk
— alone — with you."
208 THE TYPK-WRITER GIRL.
" Let US take a gondola," I suggested, my
heart throbbing high with joy ; for I felt I
had triumphed now ; his mother, and dear
Meta, and ox-eyed Lady Donisthorpe were
"A gondola!" he echoed. "A gondola!
Ah, how clever you are ! Of course! I never
thought of that. There we can talk unin-
We moved towards the Molo. I hailed a
gondolier. " Put up the felze," I said, " so
that we may not be overlooked." The man
raised the little black box, and shut us in as
in a sedan-chair. Romeo gazed admiration
again. "And you talk Italian!"
" Whither, signore ? " the gondolier
" Where shall we go ? " Romeo inquired,
turning to me.
" Where you will," I answered; "it is all
Venice." I did not add that with him by my
side all the world would be Venice.
He pointed towards the open, where we
would be less observed. The gondolier
nodded. Then the old fancy seized me. " To
San Nicolo di Lido ! " I cried. It seemed like
an omen. My patron saint had always
brought me luck, and his church lay before
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 209
me. In this crisis of my fate I would com-
mend myself to his favour.
I told Romeo why I chose that way. He
smiled, a little sadly. " May it turn out as
you wish," he exclaimed. " May St. Nicholas
help us ! "
I sat by his side on the soft black cushions,
never uttering a word — placidly, quietly
happy. I was in no hurry to speak ; the
sense that I had Romeo alone to myself at
last was joy enough for me. He took my
hand in his. I let it lie there, unresisting.
Words only spoil such first thrills of frui-
tion. Touch is the mother-sense of love ; it
needs no interpreter
At last Romeo broke the charmed silence.
I gave a little sigh as he broke it. "Oh, why
so soon ? " I asked. But, like a man, he was
eager to speak and explain himself. They are
so precipitate !
" What am I to do, Juliet ? " he cried, bury-
ing his face in his hands. " Your coming has
thrown me back upon my first resolve ; it has
driven me from my stronghold. When I tore
myself away from you in London and no longer
saw your eyes — those great magnetic uncom-
plaining eyes of yours, those eyes that have
bewitched me — I made up my mind that I
2 JO TIIK TYPK-WKITKK GfK!..
must go through with it now, and try to I'or-
get you. Not try, but pretend ; for it would
be all pretence. Since the first day you
came, daily and daily you have meant
more and more to me. It was hard to
break away from you, but I broke away
and came here, so that I might be free from
the spell ; for while I saw your eyes I could
think of nothing else ; and now chance has
thrown you in my path again, and — I cannot
go through with it."
"Not chance," I murmured low; "not
chance — but St. Nicholas ! I have come with
the money that my story brought me."
He smiled at my little conceit, for I had
told him in London of my half-fanciful cult of
the poor maids' saint, and I had called my
little tale "A Ward of St. Nicholas."
" You are a brownie ! " he cried, gazing at
me. " You wild thing, what brought you
here ? "
I laughed. "The Gotthard railway — and
my love of adventure. I was sickening of
England ; I had a migratory instinct, like birds
when they gather on the telegraph wires in
autumn, or restless Spanish sheep in spring,
when they herd and leap, uneasy to be driven
to their pastures in the mountains."
" O, ROMEO, UOMEO ! " ail
" What a wild thing you are ! " he repeated.
"A brownie, a brownie! I wonder where
you got it from ? "
" From my gypsy ancestry, I suppose," I
" Gypsy — but I thought you told me you
were American ? "
" On my father's side, yes ; but on my
mother's Lowland Scot or Anglo-Indian. She
was a Baillie of the Borders; and I suspect all
borderers of sharing the blood of the Faas
and the Petulengros. There was plenty of
" No doubt," he mused. " The difference
must have been slight between a moss-
trooper and a gypsy. Each had much the
same gentility. And, indeed, I remember the
' Lord and Earl of Little Egypt * was sum-
moned to Edinburgh as a peer of parliament."
"At any rate," I said gaily, "whether 'tis
true or false, it accounts, to my mind, for the
Meg Merrilies vein in me. I was born a
random vagrant in the world, a peripatetic
philosopher. I love movement, I love free-
dom — Bohemia. Why, I could tell your for-
tune now if you cared to cross my hand with
He gazed into my eyes. " I do not doubt
THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
it," he answered, " for it lies in your hands
I thrilled and was still. The gondola
glided over the glassy water.
Soon he began again. " Gypsy, I want
your help. You must make my fortune, not
tell it. Show me how to act. Show me how
to get free. What can 1 do in this crisis,
Juliet — my Juliet ? "
" How can I answer ? " I replied. " Tis for
your own heart to say. I know you are fond
of me. But — your mother has money, I sup-
pose, and you prefer your mother."
He withdrew the arm that lay half round
me, and sat up facing me in surprise. " My
mother ! " he cried. " My mother ! Why,
Juliet, my child, what do you mean ? It is
not my mother I think of — not her, but poor
Meta ! "
A pang darted through me. " Then you love
her !" I exclaimed ; " that woman's daughter !"
" Love her ? I do not say that. Yet,
Juliet, consider ; put yourself in her place :
I have been five years engaged to her ! "
It burst upon me like a thunderbolt. Why
had I never guessed it ? From the first day
we met I had taken it for granted — unre-
servedly, unthinkingly — that Romeo was
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 213
heart-free and unfettered as I was. Even
when I met Lady Donisthorpe I imagined too
fast that she was flinging Meta openly at his
head, but not that he was betrothed to her.
My own heart must have blinded me. Now
that I realised it all, 1 stood aghast at the
way woman's instinct had failed me. How
had I managed to misunderstand ? I saw in
a flash that the conflict I had observed in
Romeo before he left London was a conflict
in his soul between love and honour.
He seized my hand again. " It is that that
made it so difficult," he whispered. "From
the first day you came I began to love you.
I fought against it hard, oh ! so hard ; I tried
to talk little with you. Day after day I
felt you sitting there, with your great gypsy
eyes fixed ever steadily on your sheet of
paper, and your heart going forth to me. I
knew it went forth to me. I could feel it in
the room. A subtle v/ave or thrill throbbed
ever between us. I began to love you ; and
still I fought hard. But the more we talked
together the more did I feel you were the
woman God made for me, and that Meta was
not. At last I had a great struggle — ^a great
struggle with my heart, and came out of it as
I thought victorious. I fled from you here;
214 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
where the Donisthorpes had come, to remain
with Meta till the day I married her. It was
what honour demanded ; I made love yield to
I withdrew my hand slowly. " Give me
time to think this out. It has burst upon
me so suddenly. Oh, Romeo, till this mo-
ment I never dreamt you were engaged to
" Why Romeo ? "
I smiled, though my heart was aching. I
remembered that he did not know what I
had always called him. Now I told him my
fancy. " You have never been anything but
Romeo to me," I murmured.
He seized my hand again. "Juliet, I am
your Romeo. I felt it from the first. We
were meant for one another."
" I know it ! " I cried. " I know it ! And
this woman, who is not yours, has stolen you
from me. You are mine by natural fitness ;
and she took you, she took you ! "
We leaned back on the seats and mused.
The gondolier sang low to himself a soft
After some minutes I began again. " Of
course," I murmured, " it is Lady Donis-
*' O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 2 1 5
" Of course. Five years ago I proposed to
" Then zvliy did you not marry ? " I cried
vehemently. "I hate these long engagements I
They are vile for everybody ! "
" Her stepfather v^ould not permit it till she
came of age. She is a ward in Chancery, and
he has influence with the court. Till her
marriage her mother has some interest in
the property, and Sir Everard, to preserve it,
being fabulously rich already, made an excuse
that a publisher was hardly the person to whom
she might expect to aspire — though he per-
mitted, or rather encouraged the engage-
" And she is not yet of age ? "
" In October."
I gave an impatient wave of the h md.
" But she was a child when you proposed to
her ! "
"A child? We were both children. We
did not know our own minds. The Nemesis
of it is that I know mine now, while she
remains still at the childish standpoint."
"^She loves you ?"
" In her baby way — yes ; else it were all
easy. But it would break her poor heart.
Such a trusting little creature ! "
2l6 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
" And you love her? "
" Juliet, I thought I did once. But then,
I had not learnt what love meant. She was
only my Rosaline. I did not know the world
of difference between a sweet little wax doll,
with masses of light yellow tow for hair, and
a woman, a thinking woman, with heart, soul,
brain, courage — a woman who could face life
full of intrepid self-reliance ; a woman with
nerve, audacity, spirit; a woman with Homeric
love of danger and adventure ; a woman made
dearer by her sense of humour, the merry
twinkle of her eye, her gay laugh at mis-
fortune. I feel now that I need a comrade
and a help, meet for me. Someone who
could brace me up for the battle of life ;
someone with great thoughts, fine fibre, noble
impulses. I cannot go back to Meta. I
could have done it last night. This morning,
with you by my side, I feel it, I know it, im-
He drew a long breath. I lay back on
the cushion. " Romeo," I said, pleading my
rival's cause, "you must go back to her."
" Never ! " he answered, " never ! "
I temporised. " This is not a question to
decide all at one. Let us think it over slowly;
let us lay it — before St. Nicholas ! "
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 2 1 7
" If I lay it before St. Nicholas," he cried,
" with you beside me, the oracle can give but
one answer, I warrant. For I want 3'ou ; I
need you ; my whole being cries out for
We paused again. The water was cat's-
eye green. The inexorable gondola glided
on towards the Lido.
We talked it over clause by clause. A
light began to break upon me. The nearer
I drew to San Nicolo the clearer grew the
light. Ought a man to wreck two lives — his
own and the girl's whom he means to marry
(for my private fate I ignored) — in order
to satisfy a false sense of honour? What,
after all, was this honour ? A bugbear
dressed up to frighten us from the truth.
And what was the truth ? That Romeo was
rushing madly into marriage with a girl for
whom he was not fit, and who was not fit for
" Romeo," I said at last, " could you make
her happy ? "
" That's ^.he rub," he answered. " It could
hardly be for long. I could give her my hand,
but not my heart ; for my heart, my heart,
Juliet, is yours — yours only."
" Then for her sake set her free," I cried.
21 8 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
"The whole man — body, soul, and spirit — or
"So I thinl<," he murmured. "The ques-
tion is, when one has made a mistake, a mis-
take that involves final ruin for two lives,
which is the better, after all: to repair it before-
hand, while repair is still possible, or bow to
an antiquated ideal of honour, an ideal that
comes to us from an age when women were
toys, all alike, and run one's head into a noose
from which there will be no escaping ? For
her sake, as well as my own and yours, ought
I not to tell her, frankly but gently, that this
marriage she desires must mean misery for
both of us ? "
I tried to be impartial, though impartiality
is hard when your own love and life lie
trembling in the balance. " You ought," I
answered, " if you feel sure you cannot truly
"Juliet, I can never love anyone but you.
I know you for my counterpart. My love
did not come suddenly ; it grew up by
degrees from living so near you ; and
it has grown, grown, grown, like a vast
growth in my heart, till it has absorbed my
nature. I have watched you every day, talked
with you, listened Lo you. You know me and
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO I " 219
you understand me. But Meta, dear little
soul, she seems to me like a child. I cannot
share life with her, I can only take care of
her. You have originality, initiative ; Meta's
soul has the shape that her mother has put
upon it. Look how you loved and appreciated
my verses ! Your criticism, your help, were
of infinite use to me. In each word that you
altered I felt you were right. Your sug-
gestion of ' harmonious ' in that last line
where I had written ' consistent ' made a full
close for the sonnet, in sonorous organ music,
and turned my prose into poetry. Whereas,
when I gave Meta my book she read it
through, and then kissed me. 'How clever of
you, you dear boy, to be able to write verses!*
Would such a help be meet for me ? "
I clung to his hand ; it was hard to decide;
but in a very low voice I faltered out, " I
think not, Romeo."
He talked of my poor attempts at writing
stories ; he praised them, as he had always
done. " You will be famous yet, my child ;
and I shall be proud, whatever comes, that I
was the first to encourage you." He appre-
ciated me, I appreciated him ; surely, if mar-
riages are made in heaven, we two were
moulded for one another. Not alike, but com-
220 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
plementary.- And then, how rash to dream
of marrying one woman when, even before
marriage, you love another better ! Is tJiat
the way to insure a happy home ? Is that the
safe path to a life of wedded confidence ?
We drew near to San Nicolo at last. "Let
us go in," I said seriously, " and submit our-
selves to the saint. His body lies within.
We will kneel together before it."
" But I thought you told me St. Nicholas
lay throned in a gorgeous shrine at Bari?" he
" Why, of course," I answered. " What is
the use of being a saint if you cannot have
two bodies, and be in two places at once ?
And what is the use of faith if it does not
enable you to believe the impossible?"
"I do believe it," he answered; "since I
came to Venice to be out of your enchant-
ment, and found you here, more deliciously
enchanting than ever. The fascination of
your eyes "
I cut him short with a gesture ; but I was
glad he praised them.
We landed by the steps, and entered the
sailors' church. I led Romeo up to a scal-
loped niche by the tribune, where I had often
prayed as a girl with my father. Wc knelt
" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 221
down, side by side, before the jewelled shrine
that contains the blessed dust of St. Nicholas
of Myra, I hope not irreverently. I may be
what the Warden at our Guild was fond of
calling me, " an amiable heathen," but at least
I am sincere. Tears stole down my cheek.
I asked with an earnest heart for light, for
guidance. We know not, indeed, whose
saintly bones repose at peace within that
sculptured marble altar-tomb ; nor does it
matter to me much whether they be or be not
those of the benign bishop of Myra. I ac-
cepted them as the symbol of that Power,
above ourselves, to which our hearts go forth
at moments of doubt, of fear, of anguish ; and
to such a Power I prayed unfeignedly, that at
this turning-point of my life I might be led
aright, might form the just judgment, un-
biassed by self-profit, holding an equal scale
between myself and my rival.
As I knelt there a single flashing ray of
light beat down through a little window above
upon San Nicolo's altar-slab. It gilt the
niche for a moment ; it fell in gold on the tes-
sellated floor; then it passed away as a cloud
covered the sun. Rightly or wrongly, I ac-
cepted the omen. Tears stood in my eyes
still, but they were tears of gladness. "St.
THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Nicholas has answered," I whispered. "Wliat
did he say to you, Romeo ? "
Romeo looked me in the face solemnly as
he made reply. " He said, ' Better tell her
early than tell her too late. Save her while
she can be saved, and let three hearts be
Venice hung like a haze. The row back to
the Molo was a lane in Paradise.
"WHEREFORE ART THOU ROiMEO?"
At the Molo we parted. The Donisthorpes,
Romeo said, must long have been expecting
him, fidgeting that he did not arrive ; he
knew not what lame excuse he could rake up
to satisfy them. It was agreed on both sides,
however, and impressed with last words, that
he must not break poor Meta's heart prema-
turely, by too abrupt an avowal of his new
decision. We were to break it by degrees —
to give her three days of purgatory. Mean-
while, Romeo promised he would not see
me again, at least to speak together ; though
he asked leave, wistfully, to pass under my
window once each morning and smile at me,
just so as to make sure oi my presence. I
wanted this interval ; I wished to see whether
he would remain firm to his purpose when he
was removed for a day or two from that
" magnetism " of my eyes on which he dwelt
224 '"l-: TVPE-WKITKK GIKL.
I spent the three days of grace in wander-
ing about Venice. For the most part, I
avoided the great square, St. Mark's, the
Academy — all the familiar tourist haunts —
because I did not desire collision with the
Donisthorpes. Most of my time I devoted
to the out-of-the-way streets and the out-
of-the-way sights, which are so infinitely
amusing; the funny little alleys where
the true Venetians stroll ; the funny little
cainpi, where old men and children lie
stretched in the shade on the north side
of some small church, as fallow-deer huddle
on the north side of the domed oaks in a park
at noontide. Every turn revealed some pass-
ing picture. As 1 had said to Romeo, it was
all Venice. Not a remote sunless lane, with
walls of peehng plaster, tufted with pellitory,
that is not dear to my heart ; not a sluggish
side canal, into whose stagnant green water
branches of acacia and trailing sprays of Vir-
ginia creeper hang from beyond the moulder-
ing garden grill, but I love and cherish it.
Little Romanesque windows, high up on some
red-washed steeple, with twin round arches,
tall and narrow, held apart in the midst by
one twisted column ; great patches of sunlight
falling through quater-foils in dazzling relief
"WHEREFORE ART THOU UOMEO ? " 225
on the deep recessed gloom of the loggia;
wee bridges that rise, arched like a cat's back,
over streams strewn with cabbage-leaves,
where market boats from Meh^tre, laden high
with pumpkins, crawl slowly down the channel
— do I not know them all ? Are they not
etched on my brain by some fadeless process
of mental photography ?
In spite of my haunting these remoter by-
ways, however, 1 did once by accident catch
sight of the Donisthorpes. They were seated
with the prebendary at a cafe in the great
Piazza, as 1 crossed it one afternoon on my
way home from San Zaccaria, where I had
been feasting on saints in the placid enjoy-
ment of every form of martyrdom. Sir
Everard, leaning back on his chair and sip-
ping black coffee, with a small brown cap
pushed well off his forehead, a brown tourist
suit, and a capacious yellow waistcoat, amply
displayed in front of him, looked more ab-
surdly like a fat toad than ever. Lady
Donisthorpe, smiling sweetly upon Venice
in general, with her ladylike softness, her
mechanical amiability, her pouter-pigeon
suavity, yet showed marks about the eyes of
some inner dissatisfaction. They did not ob-
serve me ; 1 stole close behind them, anxious
226 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
to see the immaculate colourless Meta ; 1
wished to know for myself what manner of
girl she might be ; but she was not with
them — gone off, no doubt, for a stroll round
the square with Romeo. That thought drove
me quickly home ; like a frightened rabbit, I
rushed under the clock-tower and along the
thronged Merceria to my hotel on a side canal ;
I could not have endured to see them together
Had I no qualms meanwhile ? Aye,
marry, had I ? Do you think I slept much
through those three long nights of suspense
and torture ? If I tramped from church to
church and picture to picture during the day,
'twas but to escape from my own stinging
thoughts for a moment. I argued it all out
over and over again with myself. When we
two had been seated side by side in the gon-
dola — Romeo's arm half stealing round my
waist, my head half pillowed one second on
Romeo's shoulder — the question of ethics had
been translucent as crystal. We saw quite
clearly our course was mapped out for us by
eternal equities. Even in Meta's interest, I
was advising him for the best. "The whole
man," I had said — " body, soul, and spirit —
or else nothing ! " That was woman's full
"WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO?" 227
gospel of the new dispensation. Less than
that could be no true marriage. And " is it
not better, under such conditions, to change
one's mind early than to change it too late ?
Is it not better for you to speak the truth,
even at great risk of pain and humiliation to a
wom.an you have loved, than to tie her for
life to a man who cannot give her his whole
heart unreservedly, enthusiastically ? Is it
not better for her to be made miserable once
than to be made miserable for ever ? " In
advising Romeo to break off this one-sided
engagement, was I not advising him most of
all in Meta Donisthorpe's interest ?
At times I even felt as if I had suc-
ceeded in doing a great favour, unasked, to
But in the dead hour of night, when all
Venice slept, and the last " Stall ! " had
answered the last " Preme !" under my bed-
room window, one stanza of " In Memoriam "
kept ever recurring most inopportunely to my
mind ; I heard it in the creaking of the vane
on the Dogana, in the lap of the water against
the honeycombed walls, in the sigh of the
wind through the arches of the belfry. It
was a reproachful sound — the voice of that
conscience which I flattered myself the
228 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
generation of whom I am one had analysed
away for ever.
" Hold thou the good ; define it well ;
For fear divine Philosophy
Should push beyond her mark, and be
Procuress to the Lords of Hell."
The Lords of Hell ! The Lords of Hell !
It clanged with the hour from the great Cam-
panile ! V\'^as that where my sophisms were
taking me, I wondered ? The Lords of Hell !
The Lords of Hell ! Had I advised Romeo
aright, as the woman who loves a man should
strive to advise him at dangerous passes ?
On the third day of the three I rose early
from my sleepless bed — tired of tossing off
the quilt — and wandered out by myself east-
ward through the tortuous labyrinth of elbow-
bending streets that spreads between St.
Mark's and St. George of the Slavonians. I
was bound no whither in particular ; I let
each narrow flagged alley, each canal-side
causeway, lead me onward where it would ;
but, without design on my part, I found my-
self at last ;on the small paved platform with
the slimy green steps that catches the morn-
ing sun, in front of San Giorgio degli Schia-
voni. "San Giorgio ! " I thought to myself;
"1 must stray in here for awhile for rest and
" WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO ? " 229
meditation. After Nicholas of Myra, has not
the ever-blessed George been most of all my
patron ? Let me lay before him my doubts —
a poor maiden' doubts ; it may be that the
courteous young saint will resolve them."
I pushed aside the padded curtain, and sat
down on one of the seats. Venetian women
were there with their babies, praying — dark-
haired, dusky-eyed, poorly-clad, eager-spirited.
For a while my eyes strayed to those ever-
exquisite Carpaccios, high ranged on the left-
hand wall, which tell the pretty tale of the
tutelary saint with naive Venetian idealistic
realism. I scarce knew which of the two chief
actors I admired the more — in the episode of
the slaying of the dragon, so familiar to me
from my own life, the beautiful, graceful youth,
with his loose golden hair rippling free on the
wind ; or, in the scene of the baptism, the
kneeling Princess Cleodolind, her long, fair
tresses flowing richly down her back as she
bends to receive the sacrament of the font at the
hands of her chivalrous and devout deliverer.
St. George, I fancied, in his earnest, clear
face, somehow recalled my Romeo ; but the
Princess — I shuddered : what ill-omen was
this ? The Princess whom he baptised was a
fair-haired maiden. I knew Meta was fair —
230 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
had he not spoken of her "masses of yellow
tow " ? A cold thrill ran down my spine.
Oh, St. Nicholas — oh, St. George, avert the
I pulled out my little silver crucifix, and,
clasping it tight, decided to lay my case before
the Madonna herself, who reigns in the altar-
piece. Am I a Catholic, then ? you ask.
That is alien to this story. There are three
subjects which I decline to discuss : bi-
metallism, the sex question, and my religious
As I bent my knee before Our Lad}' on the
shrine a low sob by my side distracted my at-
tention. It came from a young girl a little
apart in the gloom. Her face lay hidden in
her hands — small gloved hands, like a lady's ;
but her fine-fibred hair was golden and luxuri-
antly abundant. I glanced from her to the
Carpaccio, and from the Carpaccio to her.
Yes, it could not be gainsaid — this was the
Had her St. George proved untrue ? She
was crying bitterly.
I knew at once that was the right explana-
tion. The sound of her sobs betrayed it.
For there are species in crying. There is
the cry of the mother for the loss of her son ;
"WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO?" 23 1
there is the cry of the wife for the faith-
lessness of her husband ; there is the
cry of the maiden for the defection of
her lover. Each has its own note, recog-
nisable at the first sound to those who have
once heard it We talk in such cases of
woman's intuition ; it were truer, I think, to
call it inference, for inference it is from
delicate observation. All women observe
keenly the symptoms of emotion; at moments
of exaltation or passion they observe them
with an almost miraculous acuteness. I knew
in a second that Cleodolind had lost her lover's
heart ; and I guessed in a flash that Cleodo-
lind was Meta.
She was dressed like a lady ; and out at
this early hour; when she and I, alone of our
class, driven from our beds by alternative
aspects of the self-same problem, were abroad
among the fisherwomen.
I gazed at her with the respect one always
accords to sorrow. My heart misgave me.
How easy it was in the gondola to philoso-
phise in the abstract ; but here, on dry land,
and in sight of this poor child with the break-
ing heart — philosophy in the concrete seemed
to present its own fresh difficulties.
Of a sudden she raised her face, and glanced
232 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
across at me, piteously. Her eyes met mine.
I started. The wisp of a figure, the pathetic
blue eyes, the sunny fluff of hair : it was
I took it in with a great gulp. Michaela
was Meta, then, and Meta Michaela.
I could not understand it, for the inscription
on her card said, not Donisthorpe, but " Miss
Allardyce"; and had she not told me that her
Christian name was Margaret ? But I had
no time to think it out just then. With a
little cry of pleasure, she came over to me,
" You dear thing ! " she whispered, holding
out her gloved hand, "what a comfort to see
you ! I want to have a talk with you. You
were so good to me at Holmwood."
I saw it was inevitable. I must face Meta
now. I took her hand in mine, with a deep
sense of repentant treachery. " Come out
with me, dear," I said, for she melted my
heart. ** Tell me all your trouble."
She pressed my hand in return. "I knew
you would be good to me," she answered.
" You are odd, but oh, so good. I saw it in
your big eyes the first day 1 met you. Do
you know, your eyes are magnetic; they seem
to draw one."
'• WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO ? " 233
" So I have been told," I answered bitterly.
" Where can we go to talk ? " she asked.
She had a caressing voice. " I am sure you
will do me good. And I do so want to talk
this over with somebody else besides mamma.
Mamma is like a feather-bed. She is kind in
her way, but so soft and comfortable. Noth-
ing seems to make a dint in her."
Inventiveness forsook me. I had no sug-
gestion to offer except another gondola. And
even at that moment, when the world whirled
round madly with myself for pivot, I was
dimly conscious, as one is often conscious
of such tr'fles at a great crisis, that always
in Venice, when people wanted a tetc-a-tctc,
they must have taken a gondola. Nowhere
else in that tangle of narrow streets and small
squares could one go unobserved for a second.
We called a gondolier. " Where shall we
tell him to take us ? " Michaela asked. It
was not in her nature to suggest a route
" Out on the open," I replied. " We shall
be less overlooked there." Then I added a
little morosely, " If you are not afraid I shall
She smiled through her tears. " You were
always so queer," she said, " but so kind."
234 THE TYPE-WRITER GIKL.
She did not guess how much more reason I
had now for drowning her. She jumped hghtly
into the boat ; she was a light httle atomy ;
you could have blov/n her away with a good
puff, like thistledown.
The gondolier took us across by San
Giorgio Maggiore. Michaela sat by my side,
holding my hand in hers. If ever in my life,
I felt guilty that minute.
So all those months I had been doing in
earnest what I had said in jest — unconsciously
playing Carmen to her Michaela. 1 had
stolen away her Don Jose — and had never
known it !
She told me hurriedly how the man to
whom she was engaged had always seemed
to love her, oh, so much — till five months
ago ; how, since that time, his love had been
gradually fading; how it had faded all away,
till she was wretched, hopeless !
She cried so intensely that I laid her head
on my shoulder. 'Twas a soft little head.
I felt like a man to her as I tried to comfort
" Five years," she sobbed out : " five
years — all forgotten ! "
" You must have been a child at the time
when you began to love him," 1 murmured.
"WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO?" 235
She raised her head. " Yes, a child.
That's what makes it so much worse ! We
have loved and been loved since we were
both children. Every thought, ever3^ plea-
sure, we have shared with one another. I
was cycling with him that day when I first
met you. We have grown up together. He
has grown into my heart — ever closer and
" What is his name ? " I asked, trembling.
She told me. I hardly needed to ask
"Why, 1 know him a little," I said.
" But I thought — he was engaged to a
daughter of Lady Donisthorpe's."
" Yes, of course. Lady Donisthorpe is my
"But — her name is Meta ; and you are
Margaret Allardyce ? "
" Mamma married again ; I told you I had
She went on with her story. She loved
him more and more. Her heart was bound
up with him. After so long a time, too ! If
he had told her three years ago But
five years — you could never make five years
" And can you account for it ? " I inquired,
236 THE TYPE WRITER GIRL.
to see how much she knew, stroking her
sunny hair with my hand as I did so.
"You dear thing! How sweetly sympa-
thetic you are ! Oh, yes, but it is ahuost too
dreadful to tell. A hateful woman — a type-
writer girl at his office ! Could you ever have
believed a person like that would come be-
tween us ? "
" Perhaps," I ventured to suggest, "she did
not mean it."
"Did not mean it? Oh, she did: the dread-
ful creature, she has bewitched him ! He
loves Jier best now. And yet, you would
think that the years must count ; the years
must count ! " She sobbed, and became in-
" Has he told you of her ? " I faltered.
" Oh ! no ; he says nothing. He only lets
me feel it. But mamma met her once at a
dinner Toto gave at the Savoy — a hateful
vulgar creature! Mamma and his mother both
spoke to him of the way he treated her — the
attention he paid her — bringing a woman
like that to dine with ladies, it was unpar-
"Some type-writers are ladies, Michaela,"
I put in softly. "I am a type-writer myself."
"Ah ! yes, but that is different ! you are so
"WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO?" 237
sweet, so gentle. You know so much ; you
have been brought up like a lady; you have
sympathy and magnetism. Tliis other crea-
ture — mother said it was horrid to be in the
some room with her. So loud, so noisy !
And she's here now, she's here ; she has fol-
lowed him to Venice on purpose to thwart us.
He came out to stay with me till the day we
were to be married. And this woman, when
she saw her hold on him was failing, rushed
after him to prevent it. Can you believe such
wickedness ? Mamma saw her with him in a
gondola. Oh ! I can't bear to say it, dear, in
a gondola, near the Riva, with his arm around
her ! "
" Perhaps," I hazarded, " when she came
here she did not know he was engaged. Per-
haps, if we could speak to her we might play
upon some chord in her better nature."
Michaela looked up at me admiringly. "You
beautiful, broad-minded person," she cried ;
"how good you are, how tolerant! You
make allowances and excuses for everyone,
I declare ! How I wish I was like you ! But
she has no better nature, I believe. Mamma
says she is a person lost to all sense of shame.
Why, the stories she told at that dinner of
Toto's about the places she had been in and
238 THE TVPE-WKITER CIKT..
thn people she had mot were quite beyond,
yon know, quite be^'ond ; oh, too drradf'd foi-
I risked another card, "My dear little
friend," I said, "I speak of the tiling tiiat I
know: she has a better nature." (Oh, God, how
it was battling now against love of Romeo in
her heart ; how it was grappling and strug-
gling ! ) "I am almost sure I have met this
girl of whom you speak. There is a type-
writer stopping at the same hotel as myself,
and I think she was out in a gondola the other
day with 3'our Romeo —let us call him Romeo;
it is 'more real and agreeable,' as Dick Swi-
veller said to the Marchioness, and 'tis the
only wa}^ in which I can talk about people."
I maundered on, to gain time, for though
outwardly I was jesting, within I was fight-
ing wild beasts at Ephcsus. "Now, she has
talked to me of your Romeo, and I assure
you solemnl}', when she arrived in Venice she
had not an idea he was engaged — of that I am
"Ah, but she knows it now, I am sure;
and yet, she bewitches him ! "
I played one card still, a more doubtful
and dangerous card than an}'. " Perhaps," I
answered. " But the years must count. You
" WIIKKKFOKK AKT TIIOL' KOMKO?" 239
arc right in that. Remember, as you say, I
am (I hope) broad-minded. I try to sec
tilings from everybody's point of view. From
yours, I see now liiat Koukm) is beiiaving —
cruelly. From tiie type-writer girl's, I sec
that she loves him deeply, very deeply ; but
'tis a new love, fresh grown ; however firmly
it may have rooted itself, it has no claim on
the score of age as against yours ; and if she
is told so calmly and frankly, she may per-
haps realise it. From Romeo's, I see — well,
more than I like to tell you." T paused and
hesitated. The effort to gain time made me
didactic. " Life is the interaction of indi-
vidualities," 1 said, "each seeing things its
own way. justice is the attempt to reconcile
them. Let us try here if we can make this
type-writer girl see something a little beyond
her own point of view — see, as you say, that
the years must count. She is not wholly bad,
whatever Lady Donisthorpe may tell you. I
will be your ambassador. I will speak to
her; I w^ill speak to Romeo. I will try to
make them feel what you have made me feel
— that the years should count. And I will
come to San Giorgio of the Slavonians to
tell you what success 1 have had in my em-
bassy at this time to-morrow."
240 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
She brightened up at the idea. She
thanked me profusei}', " He loves me still,"
she said, "a little; only, this girl bewitches
him. Oh, I have read about her eyes and
her hair in his verses. He thought no one
knew ; he put it so darkly — all wrapped up in
words ; but I could see they were hers,
though he thinks me so silly. I am clever
enough where one's heart is concerned ; I
can catch at a straw then. But if she were
once away, I am sure he would come back to
me." She nestled into my shoulder. "You
dear thing ! " she cried again, grinding her
teeth with affection, " you have put fresh
hope in me."
"Thank you, dear," I answered. " Do
you remember at Holmwood I called you
Michaela, because you were so fair, like the
girl in the opera ? Now, f-his type-writer girl
is dark, and she has bc.i playing Carmen
to you — stealing your love away from you by
her clever ways and her blandishments. She
has gypsy attractiveness. But, Michaela, I
am sure she did not mean it. if she had
known of you, if she might have seen you,
she could not have wronged you. Do you
recollect what I said to you in the train that
day — ' You dear little thing, no v^ne could ever
"WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO?" 241
hurt you ! * ? Well, I am sure the type-
writer woman would feel as I do — if she knew
you. But I want to make you promise me
one thing — if I bring you back your Romeo,
you will forgive her ? — you will never again
call her a horrid creature ? "
She soothed my hand in turn. " I could
promise you anything," she said. "I never
knew anyone so tender and helpful."
We bid the gondolier turn. She held my
hand still ; blue sky in her eyes shone after
the rain. " Only to think," she cried, " I
have met you three times — no more ; and
yet I feel you are a dear friend — the sort
of friend who would do anything for one."
"You have reason," I answered.
We returned to the Molo. A crushed heart
and a doubtful one had embarked in that gon-
dola ; a crushed heart and a doubtful one
disembarked from it again. But they had
Three days ago I had seen through the
gates of Paradise. To-day an angel with a
flaming sword stood to bar my entrance.
And, worst of all, I knew his name was
I TRAir.ED back to my hotel, surely the most
abject soul in Venice. Michaela's misappre-
hension of my motives I did not resent ; the
American eagle in my breast had scarce a
flap left — a more draggle-plumed bird I had
seldom seen. But all was at an end. I had
lost my Romeo.
My interview with the first of the two
delinquents whom I had engaged to lure back
to the path of rectitude I got over quickly on
my way home. It was not a hard one. The
culprit, sitting meekly on the penitent's bench,
listened to all my blame with a contrite heart ;
and in consideration of her contrition I con-
doned her evil deeds. It was easy to con-
done, for here I knew all, and to know all is
to forgive all. Michaela would have forgiven
had she seen into that poor mangled heart as
Looking back over my life dispassionately
ENVOY PLENIPOTENTIARY. 243
from the calm height of twenty-three, as if I
were looking at some other woman's life, I
think I can say I have never acted wrong —
grossly and unforgivably wrong — given the
circumstances. It is those alone that others
iail to understand. If they understood, they
must sympathise where now they blame us.
Could Michaela have watched, stage by
stage, the slow organic growth of my love for
Romeo; could she have felt the inevitability,
the consecutiveness of the way it unfolded ;
could she have realised its foregone certainty
as an outcome of two natures, I think, dear
little soul, even she would have hesitated to
call me " that horrid woman."
But it was all past now, and she had re-
gained her Romeo.
One culprit had recanted. I had still to
face my embassy to the second high contract-
I sat by the balconied open window of my
bedroom and looked down into the canal. It
was almost the hour for Romeo's daily passage.
Slow barges with firewood drifted lazily by,
then a boat-load of purple egg-fruit and
heaped golden melons, with a gondola or two
loitering on the look-out for passengers, like
our London crawlers,
244 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
At last my heart began to beat, not high as
it had beaten the two previous mornings, but
with a low foreboding. Another gondola
swung with a graceful curve round the huge
bosses of the corner palace ; in it, a familiar
crush Tyrolese hat, and beneath the hat,
He gazed up at me, smiled, and waved one
hand ; but his look was anxious.
I leaned out and called to him : " Romeo,
Romeo, Romeo ! "
He rose and glanced at me with checked
breath and eager eyes.
''Come up here," I faltered; "I want to
speak with you."
" In your room ? " he cried, hesitating.
I felt it was no moment to stand on false
convention. " Yes, in my room," I answered.
" Have I not told you I have confidence in
myself and my guardian angel ? "
He waved the gondolier to the steps,
leaped lightly out, English athlete that he
was, and was with me in a moment.
I might have treated the situation melo-
dramatically and hissed out at him " Traitor ! "
(But then, it is true, I unconsciously shared
his treachery.) Instead of that I treated it
like a woman, and burst into tears before him.
ENVOY PLENIPOTENTIARY. 245
He drew a chair by my side. His white
face quivered. "You have seenMeta?"he
I could feel his heart throb.
" Yes," I answered, " I have seen her, and
— I find I know her. Romeo, we were all
wrong. We were deceiving our own hearts
with specious sophisms. She said to me in
her soft small voice, all choked with tears,
' The years must count ; the years must
count ! ' — and — she was right when she said
it ! "
He flung himsell upon me. " Juliet ! " he
cried, "dear Juliet, I too have suffered. I have
battled with my own soul. The beast has
fought the angel and the angel the man in me.
When I see her, when I am with her — so
gentle, so childish, so cruelly hurt by my
coldness, or what she thinks my coldness —
how can 1 have the heart to break to her the
resolution we formed ? Yet the moment I
leave her I know it is the right one. It
would be wrong of me to marry her now,
having found my true mate — wrong for her
own sake. * The whole man — body, soul,
and spirit — or nothing.' Do not go back
on your own words. It would be treason
to the eternal cause of woman."
246 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
He spoke so vehemently that I faltered.
Then Michaela's pale face, v/ith the gentle
blue eyes swollen red from weeping, came up
like a mist before me. " You shall not wrong
that child ! " I cried. "Much as I love you,
Romeo, not even for my sake will I allow
you to wrong her. She is right and we
are wrong ; the years must count. She has
grown up with your love inextricably twined
by rootlets and tendrils through the fibre ol
her being ; to tear it away now were to tear
her very heart out. She lives on your affec-
tion. To see is to understand ; before I saw
her I thought as we thought at the Lido.
Now I know better. I will not allow you to
He drew away a step and looked me over
with his keen eyes from head to foot. I
quailed before his glance, so full it was of
admiration. " My Juliet ! " he cried. " Why
talk ? I love you for tJiis better than I have
ever loved you ! That you can contemplate
such a sacrifice for honour's sake and for
justice — the greater to the less, you to Meta
— shows me you are more worthy to be loved
than even I thought you. I cannot marry any-
one but you. You, you, you ! O, God," he
flung himself upon me in an ecstasy, "to
ENVOY PLENIPOTENTIARY. 247
think that in a world which holds such a
woman as you they should call upon me to
content myself with that wax doll of a Mcta ! "
I untwined his arms quietly. I was fighting
now the battle of my sex, and I almost forgot
myself in my advocacy of Michaela. " You
shall not speak so of her ! " I cried ; " the girl
whom you have loved for years — the girl to
whom you have uttered such vows, on whom
you have bestowed such kisses. It is an
insult to our sex. The years must count —
the years and the endearments."
He stood away and began again. "Juliet,"
he murmured, in caressing tones, and in his
flute-like voice, as if he loved to repeat my
name, " there is one woman in the world
supremely fitted for me. She has courage,
she has wit, imagination, fancy. She can
hold her own ; vivacious, brave, strenuous.
One of her stray black elf-locks is worth all
Meta's loose gold. Yet she has high purpose
enough to plead another woman's cause
against her own heart, her own happiness.
Her brain is alert ; her eye electric ; her soul
womanly. The more she argues, the more
does she make me admire her, reverence her,
worship her. Go on pleading if you will, dear
heart ; I love to hear 3^ou, to watch you ; but
248 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
every word you say, every hand you move,
for Meta, only strengthens my resolve that
you I will have, or I will have nobody.
Against your will, I will make you happy."
He sat down by my side again, and bent
towards me coaxingly. In his low sweet
voice he began to reason. I listened while
he said over again every argument we had
used together by the shrine of St. Nicholas,
with others like them. If he married Meta,
how could she hold his heart ? She would
be the mistress of his house, a sort of superior
pet bird, to be tricked out in fine feathers, to
be coaxed, stroked, fondled ; but not a wife.
If he married me, we should go through the
world together, equally paired, soul-wedded,
each mirroring the other's mind, each respect-
ing, admiring, reinforcing the other. We
two were natural complements. Why seek
to throw him back from the higher upon the
I listened and trembled. What he said
was so flattering to one's own inner vanity,
seemed so exactly what one thought in pri-
vate when one dared to be frank with oneself,
had such a show of eternal and immutable
reason, that the temptation to go back on my
word and accept his argument as true was
ENVOY PLENIPOTENTIARY. 249
almost irresistible. If I had not seen Michaela,
I think I should have yielded. Love, one's own
heart, the man one adores at one's feet, these
are dangerous assailants. But I closed my
eyes, and there Michaela's blue eyes rose up,
appealing to me in the gondola, with that
piteous cry, " The years must count ; the
years must count ! " wailed out ever from her
heart ; and I knew I was fighting the com-
mon battle of womanhood. If I were to turn
traitor now, I should turn traitor to whatever
I had within me best worth calling a con-
He seized my hand and kissed it. When
the lips of the man you love touch you, it is
hard to refuse. But I drew the hand away.
He followed it up. His breath was warm
upon my cheek. My bosom rose in a tumult.
I began to fear I had presumed too much
upon my guardian angel. If Romeo pressed
me hard now, I must throw Michaela over-
board — I must forget his honour, the years
that count, the battle of my sex, all that is
sacred on earth, everything save myself and
Romeo. If he asked me, I must say, "Yes;
let the white girl go ; I will be yours, my
Then, conscious of my own weakness —
250 THE TYl'E-WKITEK GIRL.
with an impulse as if from without, of a
sudden I flung myself on my knees, and
prayed silently and earnestly for strength to
do right, strength to refrain from betraying
Romeo stood off with clasped hands, ob-
serving me in dead silence.
I rose from my knees another woman. The
soul of womanhood found voice within me.
" Romeo, dear Romeo," I cried, facing him,
and speaking like one inspired, "it is not a
question for you; it is a question for me. I
love you with all my soul; but I refuse to
marry you. I will not be a traitor ; the years
must count : go back to Meta ! "
He caught my hand in his. I let it lie like
a stone. "Dj not send me away," he im-
plored. " Let me stop with you a little ! "
I sank into a chair. He did the same. "But
remember," I gasped, between two sighs,
"this is final."
Tears rose to his eyes. He began to speak
once more. " You must not think, dearest,"
he said, " I have not felt for Meta. Not all
these nights have I slept ; but, honestly, in
the dark, I thought it out, and I came to the
conclusion it would be best in the end — even
ENVOY I'LENirOTENTIARY. 25 I
" Romeo," I said, raising my eyes, "do you
love me ? "
He made a hasty gesture as if he would
fling himself upon me once more.
I waved him off with one open palm.
" Then promise me, promise me, you will go
back to Meta."
" I cannot ! " he cried. " I love you."
" Will you go back to Meta ? "
It was a hard, long struggle. We parried,
thrust, marched, countermarched, evaded; but
I had taken it in hand, and I determined to
finish it. Inch by inch falling back, but still
fighting, he gave way. He saw I was in
earnest. Behind each line of defence, each
logical hedge, he tried to argue it out again. I
cut him short with a hasty gesture. "A man,
yes, he can forget the years ; but a woman —
never ! "
At last, worn out, he promised. In the
agony of my excitement I took his yielding
as a personal triumph. I had asked of my
lover a difficult gift, and by dint of woman's
armoury, had prevailed on him to grant
"But — you will stop on at the office ?" he
asked at last, holding his breath.
I turned on him. " How could I ? For
252 THE TYl'E-WKITEK (IIKL.
Mcta's sake, impossible ; for my own, an
"And — I must never sec you again ?"
I bowed my head. " Tiiese things arc
made so. It is yes or nu. Uycs, for hfc ; if
uo, then never."
He advanced towards me, with his lips
trembling visibly. " 1 may say good-bye ? "
My heart leaped to break its strings. I
knew not what to say. At last — " Yes, if it
is good-bye, and if you go back to Mcta."
He seized me in his arms. 1 will not deny
that for one whole minute I lay there sobbing,
happy. It is little, for a lifetime. Then I
moved him away softly. He clung to me,
panting. "Now you must go," I whispered.
' Do not tell her it was /. Keep my secret!"
I opened the door. For a second he lin-
gered. I waved him away. I could endure it
no longer. Looking back and breathing hard,
he passed through into the passage. I turned
the key in the lock to satisfy mysell that that
embassy was fulfilled ; then I fell on the bed,
and cried a low cry, " Romeo ! Romeo ! "
I CLING TO THE RIGGING.
So my poor little Odyssey had come to an end
in shipwreck ! Mr. Samuel Butler must be
wrong, after all. I doubt a woman's ability
to handle these sustained epics. I was to get
no farther on my way to Ithaca than the
episode of Phaeacia. Nor would an}' Nausicaa
come forth to aid me.
After I had cried my heart's full — cried till
that point when you begin to leave off and to
laugh like a child at nothing, for pure weari-
ness — the humorous element, which inevitably
enters into all human tragedy, pressed itscU
upon me. On the stage, art never lets these
incongruous incidents intervene at critical
moments to disturb the current : in real life,
they zvill obtrude their faces, like Paul Pry ;
and 'tis my misfortune and my good luck
that, with some grain of Heine in my com-
position, I cannot shut my eyes to them. So
here,the comic muse,masqueradingas Common
254 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
Sense,steppedinvvith one grotesque reminder:
" You have no money to pay your way back
Now, gypsy or American or Anglo-Indian
or what you will, I am true Briton in this,
that whatever misfortune lowers, I sec one
path of safety — the road home to London.
" If only I could get back to London ! " is the
Briton's heart-felt cry of distress in a foreign
land. He can starve in comfort, so he may
starve in Piccadilly.
I have already explained that I am wholly
free from the vile vice of prudence. To take
no thought for the morrow is to me an article
of religion, though 'tis rare among those who
profess to accept it as a divine injunction.
Acting on this principle, I had bought a single
second-class ticket to Venice, as my funds
were insufficient to pay for a return. It was
my idea, when I started, to trust for my
journey home to the saint who lies at the Lido.
Now, however, I found myself in an awkward
predicament. St. Nicholas had played me a
last bad turn. I had bought perforce a new
travelling costume before I left England, for
I recognised that my rational dress with the
knickerbockers would harmonise ill with the
genius of Venice; the rest of my cash in
I CLING TO THE RIGGING. 255
hand had gone for beds at Lucerne or Milan,
and passing necessaries. I stood face to face
with an Italian court of bankruptcy ; liabilities,
my hotel bill ; assets, five paper lire.
To borrow from Romeo was now clearly
impossible. And the canals are so redolent
of thirty generations of Venetian refuse that
suicide does not offer here its normal allure-
This brought the revulsion. I lay on my
bed and laughed to think that, broken heart
or not, I could not get away from Venice.
By evening, I had a headache. I was cry-
ing once more. But the worst of headache is
that it never kills.
Early next morning I woke from a short
snatch of sleep with a dull pain in my left
side. It was moral, not physical. I rose, to
ease it by action. Oubliez ; voyagez ! I had
still qualms of conscience — I who fancied I
had dissected conscience out of existence :
but this time they were reversed. Had I
done right, after all, in speeding Romeo to his
fate? Would Michaela be a mate for him ?
Was it not better as it was before — for the
greatest happiness of the greatest number
at least ? St. Nicholas, help ! John Stuart
Mill, stand by me I
256 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
I dressed, bathed my red eyes, and went
out to keep my appointment. I was early at
San Giorgio, but Michaela was before me.
As I lifted the heavy curtain, her eyes shone
happiness. In her radiant countenance I read
my doom. She was calmly, serenely joyous.
I beckoned her to the campo. She flitted out,
and with a charming baby impulse flung her
arms around me.
Tears rose in my eyes. It was sweet to see
her happy. I held her hand and said nothing.
"Well, he has explained all," she whispered.
"You were a dear to speak to him."
" Explained ! " I cried. How true it is that
explanations explain nothing !
"Yes, he told mamma he did not know the
type-writer girl was coming to Venice. He
went out with her in a gondola because he met
her by accident — and it was such a surprise to
him; and he wanted to avoid mamma. But he
is not going to see her again, and I believe he
will dismiss her."
"No, dear," I said gently, unable to restrain
myself, "he will not dismiss her, because —
she will go away of her own accord. She
does not intend to remain with him. I have
seen her, and I can assure you she is better
than you think. She did not know Romeo
I CLING TO THE RIGGING. 257
was engaged ; and when she fully realised it
she relinquished all claim to him, or rather
admitted she had never had one. Michaela,
dear child, you must not be hard upon her.
You promised to forgive her. I feel sure she
has suffered, for she loved him devotedly."
"How good you are!" Michaela cried.
" You sympathise so with everyone ! "
" She has promised me," I went on, " that
she will never again see him, that she will
avoid him with care, that she will not speak
to him nor write to him. She will try to forget
him, though to forget him is as impossible for
her as for you. But she will be true to you ;
she will keep her word. I can answer for
her as I could answer for myself; she spoke
with such earnestness. She is tearing out
her heart; but because she thinks it right she
will tear it out ruthlessly."
Michaela smiled a tranquil smile. " And it
is all right now," she said. "We are to be
married in October, as we arranged origin-
We walked along the canal. We walked
side by side, but great gulfs separated us.
At last I spoke again. " You forgive her,
" Oh ! yes, dear, I forgive her. If she did
258 THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
not know, of course it was natural. He is
such a clear ! She could not help falling in
love with him ! "
"So I feel," I said. She glanced up at me
with inquiring blue eyes. I think for a
second she half suspected the truth, for I had
spoken too deeply.
We walked on in silence a little farther.
Then Michaela began again, brimming over
with her happiness. " I haven't a quarter
thanked you. But I am so grateful! You
were a sweet to see them both. You will
come to my wedding ? "
"No, dearest," I answered, driving back the
tears with a fierce effort. " If so, I should
be breaking a solemn promise."
Again she seemed to suspect, and again the
doubt went from her.
" It was all a mistake," she continued, in a
childish, sunny way, " a passing cloud. And
Toto seemed so distressed, I couldn't help feel-
ing sorry to see him so sorry for me. It has
touched him very deep. He cried a great deal.
He has been crying all the time. But it is all
right now. We shall be quite happy ! "
I swallowed a lump. What a child it was !
And there lay the irony. I think I could have
spared Romeo better had I felt I was sparing
I CLING TO THE RIGGING. 259
him to more of a woman. Self-sacrifice for
some great soul would be easy : but for a bit
of thistle-down ! And yet I loved her.
" I told mamma how kind you had been,"
Micliacla went on, quite guilelessly, "and she
wants to see you so much. You must come and
dine with us at our hotel. How long do you
stop in Venice ? "
I paused and reflected. I had done her a
service— a very great service ; what need to
stand on trifles ? For I do not share the
vulgar dread of putting myself under an
" Dear little Michaela," I said, spanning her
arm with one hand — it was so fairy-like and
tiny — and drawing iier towards me, " I will
confess the truth. I am travelling with that
type-writer girl. I know her intimately.
Now, I want to spirit her away from Venice
at once, so that she may not see Romeo, and
that Romeo may not see her. It would be
awkward for both of them. But I have no
money. I borrowed from you once and re-
paid you faithfully ; if I borrow from you
again I will repay in like manner. This is a
worse strait than Holmwood. I shall need
six or seven pounds. My dear, can you lend
it to me ? "
26o THE TYPE-WRITER GIRL.
She drew out the dainty purse. "Why,
of course, dear, if I have it. Fifty, a hundred
and fifty, two hundred lire ; will that be
enough for you ? "
"Yes, my child," I gasped out, taking the
crumpled notes and crushing them in my
folded hand. " If I work my fingers to the
bone you shall have it back."
We walked on towards the Molo. O grey,
grey Venice ! The greatest happiness of the
greatest number. Back, back, Stuart Mill !
Get thee behind me, Satan ! A gondola
approached. I hailed it.
"Where are you going?" she cried, sur-
"Away," I said, "at once. It is better —
safer! 1 will give the devil no chances."
Then to the gondolier, " Hold off a little ! "
He held off beyond jumping distance.
Michaela hung over on the bridge close by,
" Michaela," I cried, " now I will tell you ! "
An impulse came over me; I could no longer
resist it. " It was / who stole your Romeo's
heart by mistake ! It was / who played Car-
men and beguiled your Don Jose. It was /
who sent him back. / am the type-writer
girl ! "
I CLING TO THE RIGGING. 261
" You ! " she cried, waving to me to return.
" Oh, you dear thing, come back ! If it was
you, how good you have been ! Why, I can
see it in your face. You have suffered for
my sake ! Come back, and let me kiss you ! "
" No, dearest," I said, melting. " I must
go. I dare not trust myself. Good-bye for
ever ! Good-bye to you ; good-bye to Romeo.
Give him that message for me ; I will never
again see him." I turned to the gondolier.
" Quick, row for all you are worth ! To my
hotel first, then on to the railway station ! "
If this book succeeds I mean to repay
Michaela. Meanwhile, in any case, I am
saving up daily every farthing to repay her.
For I am still a type-writer girl— at another
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